The end of May is here. The weather is warm and beautiful. It’s time to check those wedding registries and grab your tissues: It’s Wedding Season.
As a divorce lawyer I’m not the first person soon-to-be newlyweds want to talk to as they plan their special day. Still, I’ve got a job to do here and I feel it’s my duty to write this. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. I’ll keep it short, in any event. Short for a lawyer.
About 40 per cent of marriages in Canada end in divorce (see – we’re having so much fun already). Just keep that statistic in the back of your mind. Divorce happens.
Marriage is a contract. It is not “like” a contract. It is a binding legal contract between two people. The rights and obligations that married people contract into automatically when they are married are governed by several pieces of legislation including the Divorce Act and, in Ontario, the Ontario Family Law Act.
It is possible to contract out of certain provisions in the relevant legislation, but not all of them, and that would require a separate contract.
Before we get married we spend so much time and money finding the perfect flowers, the perfect venue, the best cake, the table ornaments. We read the wedding planner’s contract. We educate ourselves before booking the honeymoon vacation.
It surprises me how few of my clients learned about the binding rights and obligations that would arise on their wedding day before that big day. Those rights and obligations govern important things like the rights you have with respect to your home, your assets and the way in which you will financially support each other going forward.
The best place to get information about the legal impact of marriage is from a qualified family lawyer. Like any contract, it’s a good idea to know what it means before signing. If you’re looking for information as part of planning for your special day (and your life thereafter) don’t hesitate to contact us.
Marian Gage is a Collaborative Family Lawyer, Accredited Family Mediator and a Certified Specialist in Family Law.