At the end of a marriage, separation agreements can provide you with clarity and certainty. A well-drafted legal separation agreement can settle all existing disputes and set out how you will deal with any future issues. Think of it as a roadmap for moving forward with life after separation.
What is a legal separation agreement?
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your spouse that sets out each of your rights and obligations upon separation. It should be customized to your unique needs and circumstances. The agreement can cover any and all issues that you and your spouse can agree on, including custody, parenting and living arrangements, child support, spousal support, and division of property and debt.
The agreement has several essential elements. For example, it must be in writing, signed by both spouses, and witnessed. Before signing, both sides must make proper financial disclosure.
Do I need a lawyer to draft my separation agreement?
We recommend that you get advice from a family lawyer when negotiating and drafting a separation agreement. Marriage breakdown is a challenging, emotional time. BC family law is complex and important consequences will flow from your agreement. You need to understand your legal rights and obligations before signing.
For the agreement to be fair, you need the full picture of your finances and those of your spouse. Also, consider that you will likely refer to your separation agreement many times over the coming years, especially if you have young children. When issues arise in the future, you want to be able to look to your agreement for answers. An experienced family law lawyer can anticipate those issues to ensure they are adequately addressed in the agreement.
Can I avoid going to court if I have a separation agreement?
You can avoid litigation by negotiating a separation agreement that resolves all family law issues. This is typically faster and more cost-effective than going to court. Instead of asking the court to decide the issues, you and your spouse can negotiate customized solutions. This allows you to retain control of the outcome for yourselves and your children. The one thing you cannot do by agreement is obtain a divorce. Separation agreements do not legally end marriages – for that, you must get a divorce order from the BC Supreme Court. However, once you and your spouse have a comprehensive separation agreement in place, you can apply to the court for a “desk order” divorce or simple divorce without having to appear before a judge.
Who can help me if I have more questions?
You may still have questions about ending your marriage, separation agreements, or settling issues so you can obtain a divorce. Contact our family lawyers today for help.