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In Case Life Does Us Part: Why Prenups Are Important

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The coming few months are a busy time for Family Law Lawyers in Toronto, especially with the wedding season approaching. Despite that, it is still found that most couples going into marriage are reluctant about prenuptial agreements (prenups or marriage contracts). They harbour preconceived notions that prenups are unromantic and indicate a lack of faith in the relationship. People also think that prenups are only applicable to the rich and famous. However, the facts are that with the divorce rate in Canada, sitting at approximately at 41%, protecting yourself from a potential pitfall is not just sensible, but a necessity. While division of assets and property is important, it is not the only reason to have a prenup, as the agreement allows couples to have open and honest communication about their finances, which helps put both parties at ease in the long run.

By definition, a prenuptial agreement is a private contract into which two parties enter before a marriage or civil union takes place. Its purpose is to settle financial matters in advance in the event of either a divorce or death. While not completely foolproof, these agreements play an increasingly large role in the outcome of divorce case resolutions.

A prenuptial agreement, when properly negotiated, can protect:

  • Retirement or education funds that either party may have accumulated before marriage
  • Division of property that either party owns at the time of marriage
  • Property interests of any children from previous relationships
  • Obligations of spousal support should the marriage dissolve
  • Direction of education and religious instruction of children borne from marriage
  • Finances of each party
  • Against obligation to pay the other party’s debts
  • Inheritance
  • Ownership rights in life insurance or disability policies

Prenuptial agreements cannot be used to:

  • Determine custodial arrangements of children
  • Define matters of support of children
  • Determine who has the right to the marital home, or the right to sell same if the marriage dissolves
  • Define any personal matters such as relationships with family

If you intend on entering into a prenuptial agreement, do it early on – this ensures that neither party is surprised by the nature of the agreement. Consult with an experienced, skilled and knowledgeable family law lawyer to make sure that the prenuptial agreement is negotiated properly.

About the Author

Cheryl Goldhart and the team of lawyers at Goldhart & Associates work exclusively in the area of family law. They have the experience and dedication to assist clients achieve their objectives.

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