Prenuptial agreement also known as premarital agreement or antenuptial agreement is a hot topic that is gaining popularity among Canadian couples nowadays. Though the mention of a prenuptial agreement may mostly bring to your mind celebrity divorces, which happen almost all the time or marriage between unstable individuals who have a history of divorces; there are still plenty of good reasons prenups make sense even for regular Canadians like yourself.
Nowadays, as the number of divorces increase in Canada, marriage contracts are not only hot topics at cocktail parties but are also relevant, binding, and becoming increasingly popular among Canadians.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement In Canada?
A prenuptial agreement in Canada is a legally binding contract or a lawful agreement that both the fiancé and fiancée must sign prior to their marriage. In some Canadian provinces, a prenuptial agreement is often referred to as a domestic contract or a marriage contract.
The purpose of prenuptial agreements is to initially sort out complicated issues that occur during a divorce, such as the division of assets, debts, estates etc.
It contains various legal clauses and terms, such as:
- Information about both couples
- Individual assets and debts
- Shared belongings and debts
- Spousal funding and maintenance
- Legacy business, properties, etc.
This contract needs to be signed by both individuals, and must be submitted to the court before the marriage takes place. If the couple decides to have a divorce sometime in the future, then all these documents will become valid and must be given and divided according to the prenuptial agreement.
Why is Signing a Prenuptial Agreement the Right Choice?
The last thing a starry-eyed bride or groom wants on their mind is divorce!
But even though it may seem as a negative concept to think about divorce even before getting married, couples should consider it as a type of insurance. In the unfortunate event that your marriage does not work out as initially expected, you can ensure that the entire divorce process goes smoothly and you can be relieved that the issues concerning money and debts are already resolved.
Here are few reasons why couples should sign a Prenuptial Agreement:
- You wish to protect your existing assets and future inheritances.
- There’s a tremendous imbalance when the value of assets of each person is compared.
- One partner owns or has an ownership stake in a profitable business (especially a family owned business).
- You or your partner already have a substantially large amount of debt before the marriage.
- You or your partner has already been divorced previously and/or has children who may be receiving financial support.
Your fiancé or fiancée wants a prenuptial agreement before you marry.
Is it compulsory that you have to sign it?
Absolutely not. Canadian law related to the Prenuptial Agreement is based on informed consent – which means that you cannot be forced or threatened to sign anything that you don’t want.
What You Must Know Before Signing A Prenuptial Agreement In Canada
1. Adequate Legal Representation Before Signing
Before signing a prenuptial agreement in Canada, it is important that both the parties seek assistance from a qualified legal representative. The legal representative can provide proper advice to couples on how they can avoid claims of coercion and duress that could be brought during the divorce process if one of the spouses chooses to challenge the validity of the agreement. A family divorce lawyer will walk the client through the complete terms of the contract and ensure all legal requirements are validated and concerns are addressed before signing the Prenuptial Agreement.
2. The Contract Must Be Signed Willingly
Section 55 of the Ontario Family Law Act requires that both fiancé and fiancée must be mentally stable and must possess the capability to to sign the Prenuptial Agreement. The agreement must not be signed under any implicating threats, violence or constraints, or must not be done against their will or better judgment. Moreover, if the Prenuptial Agreement was signed under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any other form of intoxication, then that could be a reason to invalidate it.
3. Be Honest While Disclosing Assets
Before signing a Prenuptial Agreement In Canada, it is compulsory that both individuals must honestly make a full disclosure of his/her assets. If the fiancé or fiancée lies about their assets, debts, properties, investments, etc, then the agreement will be unenforceable. If found that one of the spouses did not honestly disclose their assets or even undervalued their assets, then the court can determine whether he/she is guilty of misrepresentation.
4. Avoid Careless Mistakes In The Paperwork
Similar to any legal binding document, prenuptial agreements also must be put together by a qualified lawyer in Canada. Prenup documents and terms can get quite complicated because these agreements have profound future implications. Therefore, it is imperative to get skilled counsel while preparing a prenup document. This will help you in avoiding careless mistakes and omissions that could render the prenup invalid. The lawyer can also analyze whether the prenuptial agreement contains preposterous or unreasonable provisions or if it is too lopsided.
5. Prenuptial Agreements Must Comply With The Relevant Statutes
The prenuptial agreements must be consistent with the Canadian Family Law Act and Divorce Act, and must meet all the relevant statutes. If you are unfamiliar with the Canadian statutes regarding the prenuptial agreements, then it’s best to hire a family lawyer in Brampton to help you understand these legal provisions related to prenups.
A prenuptial agreement can make the complete divorce process less contentious and facilitate a smoother, faster settlement at a considerably lower legal fee. It also ensures that a fair distribution of assets or property is already in place, such that there will be no significant financial hardships that could potentially jeopardize long-term financial health and stability. If you wish to sign a prenuptial agreement in Canada prior to your marriage or if you wish to know more about the laws regarding prenuptial agreements, then get in touch with a family divorce lawyer in Canada today.
Cindy Williams is a blogger in Canada. She graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.