Considering A Domestic Contract In Ontario?

Obtaining a domestic contract in Ontario has its benefits. Life can take many unexpected turns and sometimes couples that in the past couldn’t envision a time when they would no longer be together may decide to separate. Over the past five years, the divorce rate across the province of Ontario (and Canada) has been about 40%. Given these realities, it makes sense for couples that are considering marriage or who plan to live together to have a domestic contract – ideally one created before they get married or move in together. However, a domestic contract can be created at any time in a relationship.

What is the Domestic Contract?

A domestic contract in Ontario is a contract entered into by two people for the purpose of setting out their expectations of and obligations towards each other.

What Issues Can a Domestic Contract Address?

A domestic contract can address various matters, including the terms of separation, divorce, custody, support, and division of property.

Types of Domestic Contracts

There are many types of domestic contracts in Ontario, and these include the following:

  • Cohabitation Agreements
  • Marriage Contracts (also known as Prenuptial Agreements)
  • Separation Agreements

Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation agreements are entered into by couples that intend to live in a common-law relationship. If the parties later marry, the agreement will be deemed to be a marriage contract. In Ontario, cohabitation agreements are very common.

Marriage Contracts (Prenups)

People that are married or intend to marry can enter into a marriage contract. When the parties enter into the contract before they marry, the agreement is also referred to as a Prenuptial Agreement.

Separation Agreements

A separation agreement is a type of domestic contract that is executed after the parties separate, and when they did not enter into a marriage agreement or cohabitation agreement that deals with the separation.

Experience has shown that couples obtain the most benefit when the agreement is entered into before marriage or cohabitation when they are in a positive, productive phase of the relationship and can address the difficult issues that may arise during separation in a rational manner. After separation, the situation can be much more acrimonious and emotional, making it more challenging and expensive for both parties to reach an agreement.

How do I register a domestic contract in Ontario about support?

To register a domestic contract about support, you may file it with the court, and then register the domestic contract with the Ontario Family Responsibility Office (FRO). The FRO has the job of enforcing court-ordered support responsibilities.

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