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Separation and Divorce or Death of a Spouse: Property Division

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Written agreements

If you and your spouse want to share your property differently if your relationship ends, you can make an agreement.

The agreement is called a "cohabitation agreement" if you are living common-law, or a "marriage contract" if you are legally married. These types of agreements are called domestic contracts or domestic agreements.

In the agreement, you can say how you want to arrange your finances during your relationship and how you want to deal with your property and debts if you separate.

Before signing a domestic contract, you and your spouse should each:

  • understand the agreement
  • review the agreement with your own lawyer
  • make a complete and detailed list of all your assets and debts

You do not need a lawyer to make a domestic contract. But it is a good idea to get your own legal advice before signing one. You and your spouse cannot get advice from the same lawyer.

Usually the courts will not change or cancel a domestic contract just because one spouse wants to change it. But in some cases a court might do this if, for example, a spouse:

  • did not tell the truth about their finances,
  • was not able to understand the agreement, or
  • was under a lot of pressure to sign the agreement.