Do We Need a Marriage Contract: Understanding How a Legal Agreement Can Strengthen Your Life Together by Michael G. CochraneDo We Need a Marriage Contract: Understanding How a Legal Agreement Can Strengthen Your Life Together by Michael G. Cochrane

Do We Need a Marriage Contract: Understanding How a Legal Agreement Can Strengthen Your Life…

byMichael G. Cochrane

Paperback | April 16, 2010

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Congratulations! You've decided to get married. It's a wonderful time, but there's more to think about than just the perfect wedding and honeymoon.

Marriage is more complicated than it used to be. People are marrying later in life and perhaps for the second or third time. Often they are bringing more assets and more liabilities into the relationship, blending children from previous relationships, and generally facing all kinds of new challenges. Marriage contracts, wills and Powers of Attorney are all valuable ways to set your expectations in advance.

Do We Need a Marriage Contract? is written in clear, nontechnical language and includes real-life examples based on Canadian cases. Cochrane includes a sample marriage contract to address the critical issues you need to be aware of, including:

  • Protection of assets brought into the marriage
  • The special practical and financial concerns of blending children into new families
  • Family pressure to have a marriage contract
  • Business pressure to have a marriage contract
  • How to have a discussion with your partner and not spoil the romance
  • How marriage contracts work with your wills and Powers of Attorney
  • How to work in a cost-effective way with a lawyer
  • How to avoid the relationship mistakes that lead to divorce

This is your future together. Get it right from the very beginning. Take the advice of Michael Cochrane, a lawyer with more than 30 years of experience in family law, and carefully consider the numerous issues that can affect your relationship.

MICHAEL G. COCHRANE, LL.B., has been practicing law in Ontario for 30 years and is a partner with the firm Ricketts, Harris LLP. He is the author of a number of books including Surviving Your Divorce: A Guide to Canadian Family Law; Do We Need a Cohabitation Agreement?: Understanding How a Legal Contract Can Strengthen Your Life Togeth...
Title:Do We Need a Marriage Contract: Understanding How a Legal Agreement Can Strengthen Your Life…Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 2.17 × 3.35 × 0.39 inPublished:April 16, 2010Publisher:WileyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0470737514

ISBN - 13:9780470737514

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Table of Contents


Caution about Legal Information.

Chapter 1: Is This Book for You?

Divorce Nightmare: Don’t Let This Happen to You.

Why Marriages Need Contracts.


Chapter 2: Eyes Wide Open: Due Diligence and Relationship Building.

Why Due Diligence?

Your Partner's Health.

Criminal Problems.

Financial Problems.

Relationship Building.

What Makes for a Mature Relationship?

Have Realistic Expectations.

Develop Good Problem-Solving Skills.

Ten Elements of Good Problem Solving.

Chapter 3: Your Rights and Responsibilities to Each Other If You Are Married but Do Not Have a Marriage Contract.

The Significance of the Date of the Marriage.

What about Having Children?

What about Buying Property?

What about Income and Expenses?

What about Medical/Dental Health Benefits?

What about Income Tax Returns?

What about Wills and Powers of Attorney?

Chapter 4: The Legal Consequences of Marriage: Rights and Responsibilities If You Separate.

When Are You separated?

What Happens If We Have Children and Separate?

Custody and Access.

Financial Support.

What Happens to Property That We Owned Before We Were Married?

What Is Property?

Property Owned Before Marriage.

Property Acquired During the Marriage.

What If One of Us Needs Financial Support After Separation?

What If We Move After Marriage?

Are There Time Limits for Bringing a Claim?

Chapter 5: Legal Consequences of Marrying: Rights and Responsibilities If One of You Dies or Is Injured.

Joint Property.

Joint Accounts.

Having a Will and Not Having a Will.

Examples of Common Situations.

Powers of Attorney for Personal Care and Property.


Chapter 6: Marriage Contracts: Creating Your Own Set of Rights and Obligations.

An Overview of a Marriage Contract.

Providing for Children.Biological Children of the Couple.

A Specific Formula for Childcare When a Career Change Arrives.

Spousal Support, Releases, and Sunset Clauses.

Providing for Your Support.

Providing for Death, Injury, or Illness.

What About Your Property?

Sunset Provisions and Termination Clauses.

Managing the Household Budgets and Other Matters.

Conditional Gifts from Third Parties.

Contracts Made Outside the Jurisdiction in which a Couple Resides.

Minors and the Mentally Incapable.

Breakup to Makeup: Reconcilation.

Enforcement of the Marriage Contract.

Dispute Resolution.

Chapter 7: Having "The Conversation".

The "Do's".

Do Make a Plan and Have a Purpose.

Do Have an Answer to the Question, "Why Do We Need a Marriage Contract?"

Do Give Yourself Enough Time.

Do Use It as an Opportunity to Discuss the Need for Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Insurance.

Do Keep It Simple.

Do Be Fair and Respectful.

The "Don'ts".

Don't Present Your Partner with a Draft Contract.

Don't Mention Lawyers.

Don't Rush the Discussion.

Don't Present a One-sided Option.

Don't Blame It on Other People.

How Do You Have "The Conversation" If You're Already Married?

Chapter 8: The Role of Your Lawyer.

Why Do People Fear Hiring a Lawyer?



Why Do You Need a Lawyer?

Why Do You Need a Lawyer with Family Law Experience?

Choosing Your Lawyer and Managing the Relationship.

Buying Some Advice, but Not Independent Legal Advice.

Using a Mediator.

Chapter 9: Signed, Sealed, and Delivered.

The Three "Must-Do's".

1. The Contract Must Be in Writing.

2. Both Parties to the Contract Must Sign It.

3. The Signatures Must Be Witnessed.

Obtain Independent Legal Advice.

Doing It Yourself.

How to Ruin Your Marriage Contract.

Some Tips for Negotiating and Drafting Marriage Contracts.

Chapter 10: Same-Sex Couples.

Getting Married Is the Easy Part.

Sperm Donation.

Same-Sex Families, Adoption, and Sperm Donors.


Chapter 11: Let’s Look at a Marriage Contract.

Marriage Contract.

Separation Agreement with Former Spouse (If this Applies).

Ownership and Division of Property.


Release of Spouse Support.

Certificate of Independent Legal Advice.


Appendix A: My Marriage Contract Worksheet—What I Own and What I Owe.

Appendix B: Marriage Contract Schedule A and Schedule B.

Appendix C: Some Considerations and Key Document Checklist.

Appendix D: Consent for Disclosure of Criminal History Information.

Appendix E: Permission to Conduct Credit References.