In Ontario, there is a default statutory regime that governs matrimonial property. However, if a couple preparing to wed or an already married couple wishes to avoid the default statutory regime, the couple may opt out of the regime by signing a marriage contract in which the couple shapes its own rights regarding property division.
This article is about marriage contracts in Ontario. The relevant legislation establishes a default regime that deals with matrimonial property at the breakdown of marriage. This default regime automatically applies to all couples unless the couple decides to opt out by signing a marriage contract. Once a marriage contract is signed, it will, for the most part, replace the property division provisions of the relevant legislation. However, it is important to note that the relevant legislation will still govern the marriage contract itself. For example, the legislation may allow courts to set aside marriage contracts if there is evidence that there was improper financial disclosure; one of the parties did not understand the nature and consequences of the contract; or if there is evidence of fraud, duress or undue influence when entering into the marriage contract.
- Prior to getting married, it would be prudent to review and understand the applicable statutory regime to understand how property will be divided upon marital breakdown. If the couple believes the statutory regime does not suit their needs, they can consider entering into a marriage contract.
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