Marriage Contracts

Typically marriage contacts are entered into by parties prior to marriage.  However, marriage contacts can be entered at any point after marriage. 

As with cohabitation agreements, a marriage contact can be comprehensive or specific .  A marriage contract can establish how the parties will divide their property or the value of their property in the event of separation, whether specific pieces of property will be excluded from any division of property, whether spousal support will be paid, a step parent’s obligations to children of a previous relationship ...  

Of particular interest to many people is the matrimonial home.  If a party enters the marriage as sole  owner of a house in which the couple resides or later purchases a house and is the sole owner, then in the absence of a marriage contract, the value of the house will be shared between the couple as part of the equalization calculation in the event of separation.  Through a marriage contract, the couple can agree that the value of the house should not be included in any equalization or division of property, or that some portion of the value will not be shared on separation.

It is best not to enter marriage agreements on the verge of a wedding celebration, or just prior to marching down the aisle.  Many beautifully drafted marriage contracts have been overthrown by the courts on the basis that they were entered into under conditions of duress, or ignorance.  Both parties must consult their own independent lawyers when entering a marriage contract.