Marriage Rights and Obligations

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Marriage in Ontario is governed by the Marriage Act. Marriage is a legal contract between two people—of opposite sexes or of the same sex—that carries with it certain rights and obligations.


For a marriage to be accepted as legal, participants must be 18 years of age or older (although, a person may be able to marry at 16 or 17 years of age with written permission from the parents).

Arranged marriages

The law does not prohibit an arranged marriage. And it does not matter who makes the arrangement; however, the Marriage Act is very clear on this point: a forced marriage or a coerced marriage is illegal. No one can be forced to marry someone. Participation must be voluntary.

Family property

Ontario’s Family Law Act governs the treatment of family property belonging to married spouses. Specifically, it provides that from the date of marriage onward, any increase in the value of most of the assets that are brought into the marriage by either party must be shared. And, if the marriage subsequently ends, each spouse is entitled to half of that increase.

Matrimonial home

The married couple’s home, cottage of vacation home are subject to special treatment starting from the date they get married. In particular, any home they share after that date becomes a “matrimonial home” as defined by the Family Law Act, and is subject to special rules. Those rules entitle both spouses to equal possession. This means that one spouse is not allowed to sell the home without the other spouse’s consent.

Spousal support

Whether or not a spouse is entitled to support payments depends on various factors, such as the length of the relationship and the financial impact of the marriage on each spouse.

For a free consultation with an AGB family lawyer to talk about your marriage contract or cohabitation agreement, call us today in Ottawa at  613-232-8832 or email usWant to talk right now? A representative is available for a live chat.


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