Common questions and answers about domestic contracts

What is a Domestic Contract?

A Domestic Contract is any written agreement governing family relationships, including how children and property will be dealt with in particular situations. The term is most commonly used to refer to Cohabitation or Marriage Contracts, where advance provision is made for children, property division, and support should there be a later breakdown in the family unit. The contract can also address issues in an ongoing marriage. 

When is a Domestic Contract a Good Idea?

For spouses bringing significant assets into a marriage or common law relationship, or already having significant other family obligations due to a prior relationship, a domestic contract may be a good idea to achieve later legal predictability. Such a contract can be drafted at reasonable cost, as no court process is involved. 

Can a domestic contract later be challenged?

Those interested in creating a domestic contract need to be aware that such contacts are often challenged by opposing counsel in the course of later divorce, separation and child custody proceedings. It's possible that all or some of the provisions of the contract may be struck down as unreasonable, or because one of the two person's signing it was disadvantaged in his or her knowledge of its ramifications. This is why it's highly unadvisable to try to draft your own domestic contract, why you should retain knowledgable legal counsel who can custom craft a document that maximizes prospects of later standing up in court, and why both parties signing the agreement need their own lawyers - even if only for independent legal advice.