Domestic Contracts in Ontario

Table of Contents

There are five types of domestic contracts in Ontario, as set out in Part IV of the Family Law Act (“FLA“):

  1. cohabitation agreements;
  2. marriage contracts (also known as prenups);
  3. separation agreements;
  4. paternity agreements; and
  5. family arbitration agreements.

What makes a Domestic Contract legally valid?

Your agreement will be valid if:

it is in writing;
signed; and
witnessed

Independent legal advice is not a formal requirement, but it is highly advisable to prevent challenges to the contract on other grounds, such as:

  • A party failed to understand the nature and consequences of the agreement;
  • A party failed to disclose a significant asset or debt in existence when the agreement was signed; or
  • Any other ground that an ordinary contract may be attacked: fraud, duress or undue influence.

Keep in mind: exact values in your agreement are less important, so long as the agreement is reasonable.

If you feel your circumstances are accurately represented in your agreement and you fully understand what the nature and consequences of your agreement, then you always have the option to waive independent legal advice.

Need Independent Legal Advice?

Book a free consultation with one of the lawyers at Angrove Law. Available in Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia.

hilary angrove ontario prenuptial agreement lawyer

Challenging a Domestic Contract

There are three common grounds contemplated by Section 56(4) of the FLA to challenge a domestic contract:

  1. A party failed to disclose a significant asset or debt at the time they signed the contract
  2. A party failed to understand the nature and consequences of the contract
  3. Any other ground that an ordinary contract may be attacked, such as fraud, duress, or undue influence.

Keep in mind: If there has been full financial disclosure and independent legal advice, it’s going to take more than being a ‘bad deal’ to set aside a domestic contract, especially regarding property division!

Should I file my Domestic Contract with the court?

Section 35 of the FLA allows a party to file their marriage contract with the court along with an affidavit stating the contract remains in effect to date.

Filing your marriage contract with the court allows for support provisions contained in the agreement to be enforced by the Family Responsibility Office.

Keep in mind: if you file your contract with the court, it can be varied or even set aside by court order!

Need help with your Domestic Contract? Contact Angrove Law today!

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