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A written contract between a husband and wife outlining the spouses’ respective responsibilities and obligations. Some contracts also include agreements as to how property and ongoing obligations will be shared if the marriage breaks down. The weight given to a contract or an agreement is often dependent upon whether both parties’ have had independent legal advice.
A domestic contract signed by two people who are living together or intend to live together but not marry. In it they may provide for ownership and division of property, support and any other matter affecting their relationship. Parties cannot contract out of child support as that right belongs to the child. Therefore, a cohabitation agreement would not protect a person from ultimately paying child support, not only for the couple’s own children, but also for a child to which one parent stood in the place of a parent (in loco parentis).
MINUTES OF SETTLEMENT
Also known as a Divorce & Property Contract, a Settlement Agreement or a Separation Agreement, these are contracts which set out the parties’ agreement in the areas of custody, access, child support, spousal support and property. The Matrimonial Property Act allows a person to contract out of the legislation if they do so with the help of independent legal advice. The Courts are slow to overturn contracts concerning spousal support, custody and access if entered into with independent legal advice; however, parties cannot contract out of child support as it is the right of the child.
Although these agreements usually signify that all issues have been settled so that the parties can finish applying to the Courts to obtain a divorce through a procedure known as a “desktop divorce” or uncontested divorce, these agreements do not allow a person to remarry. In order to remarry, the parties must have a Certificate of Divorce.
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