Do I need a Marriage Contract?

Sunshiaa Aiteeneyas

August 24, 2023

It’s scary to think of anything going sideways. Simply thinking of the unimaginable makes us feel like something bad could happen. And yet, we do. 
That’s why we get insurance – for our car, our homes and even ourselves. We want to make sure we’re protected. However, when it comes to relationships, we hate to think that it could possibly end.  

“Our love is eternal” 

“We promised to grow old together” 

“He/She’s my soulmate” 

“We’re destined to be” 

While you tell yourself this, you might find yourself reminded of others who have said the same and who are now filing for divorce.  

Of course, there’s no saying that your relationship would come to that. It could thrive. It could last your lifetime. And I pray yours does.  

In fact, a handful of couples have made it work – kudos to them- however, relationships won’t always turn out the way we want or expect them to.  

And while you might not see it now, having a Marriage Contract or Cohabitation Agreement is something you might want to consider before you commit to living together from here on out.  

The Marriage Mindset 

We want our love to last forever. And while we should all strive to fight for that, we also don’t know what the future holds.  

A marriage contract is there to secure you and your partner’s properties and assets if ever things go south. Of course, the goal is to never have to get to that point but then again, you never know.  

In fact, if you get a marriage contract, you can just get it and forget it.  

So, what’s the point of it then?  

If you truly love your partner, you’d have everything set in writing while you can still amicably come to an agreement on things. Also, many people fail to realize that there are unintended consequences to not having a marriage contract at all.  

Let’s say that you only want what’s yours or you’ve planned to just shares things if it does come to it, leaving it to the default means you leave it up to the provisions of the law and it may not be what you or your partner intended.  

The Unintended Consequences  

Now, what could these unintended consequences be? 

Although a ton of things come to mind, primarily, the main consequences you should wish to avoid are changes in the provision of the law in regard to marriage and how marriage affects your own personal assets, achievements and income moving forward.  

Of course, this involves quite a broad range of things, which is why I’d like to discuss three of the most misconstrued myths behind the division of properties during divorce.  

This house is under MY Name before Marriage 

Regardless of how much you put towards your home, even prior to marriage, even if it is under your name, it is considered conjugal. The same could be said of other properties and assets acquired before and after your marriage.  

That said, if the matrimonial home was initially purchased by you, even with the downpayment being covered solely by you, in the eyes of the law you will still be splitting it 50-50. 

Many make the mistake of thinking they’d get a deduction because they put more towards the home than their partner, however, that is not the case. In fact, when it comes to the matrimonial home title it does not matter.  

My Partner Used to Earn More and Can Still Earn More 

Despite how responsible and financially capable you or your partner may be now, you never know how the tides may turn. You may be the low-income earner or the high-income earner at one point in another during your relationship, and this is fine so long as you are together.  

However, in separation, spousal support tends to be very draining especially if things turned out for the worse. It could be that your partner, being the former breadwinner, cheats, turns to drugs, might go into a life crisis of some sort and you end up being the greater-income earner in your relationship at the date of separation.  

In this case, more often than not, where the lower-income earner becomes the high-income earner, the now greater-income earner does not want to pay spousal support, and of course, for good reason. Yet no matter the cause of the role reversal, the lower income-earner during the date of separation is entitled to spousal support from the higher income earner.  

Of course, there is an entitlement threshold, but most of those who have experienced this scenario say that had they known it would happen they would have organized their affairs differently.  

Getting Back Inheritance spent on the Marriage 

Another thing we have to look at is your inheritances.  

Although inheritance is considered separate property, belonging exclusively to the inheritor, if you decide to put it to use towards your marital assets such as using it on your matrimonial home or depositing it into a joint bank account, it automatically becomes subject to division if you do decide to separate even if your intention was to simply temporarily sustain or improve your shared household during the time it was used.  

What if these scenarios don’t bother me at all? 

The point of a marriage contract is to be intentional with your future. Even if you aren’t concerned with these unintended consequences, it’s always best to put that into writing this way both you and your partner have a written agreement you can turn to if ever it comes to that. Of course, you could always change the terms in the future, however, at least it would be on your terms rather than leaving it up solely to the law to decide.  

This way, both you and your partner have a say as to who gets to keep what and what is considered as yours or your partner’s throughout the course of your marriage.