What Are Separation Agreements?

Separation agreements are family law agreements spouses can enter in to after separation. Separation Agreements are your best bet if you are thinking about reducing costs of litigation and divorce. They look at your past, present and future situations and provide a guide on how to move on both financially and custody wise. Generally the resolve the following issues:

  1. Child custody;
  2. Child Support;
  3. Spousal Support;
  4. Property Division;
  5. Debt Divison;
  6. Divorce
  7. Estate rights;
  8. Costs, etc.

Separation agreements are the cheapest and best ways of resolving your family law matters. Needless to say, they require two reasonable spouses being motivated to move on. In many cases, one or both spouses are unreasonable and need to find closure for their emotional pains through litigation and court. This is not always a wise decision but sometimes there is no choice than to litigate.

If you are one of those lucky couples who can reach an agreement on some or all of your matrimonial issues, you should enter into a comprehensive and bullet proof separation agreement that can put your mind at ease and ensure you can move on to the next chapter of life with peace of mind.

What Are the Requirements of BC Separation Agreements?

Under the BC Family Law Act, separation agreements must:

  1. Be in writing;
  2. Signed by both spouses; and
  3. Be witnessed (in some cases courts have said spouses can witness each other’s signatures).

But to have a strong agreement, the above requirements  will do next to nothing for you. If you want to be sure and rely on your separation agreement, you need to follow several other steps such as: 

  1. Having Independent legal advice: many separation agreements can be easily set aside because your ex may say they didn’t know what they were getting into, didn’t understand the law or didn’t have an opportunity to obtain independent legal advice. One of the most important things that upholds any agreement is independent legal advice. Make sure both you and your spouse have independent legal advice by your own lawyers by the time you reach an agreement. It is an investment that will put your mind at ease. If you pay $2000 per year for your car insurance, why wouldn’t you spend a fraction of that on your future and the rest of your life? Save the $10 spent on downloading a Google template. They do not comply with BC laws and are pretty much useless. To obtain independent legal advice from one of our award winning lawyers, click here.
  2. Full and Transparent Financial Disclosure: if you enter in to an agreement but do not tell your spouse about the complete picture of your assets and property, income and finances, they can easily come back in the future and cancel or set aside the separation agreement because they’d say you lied or hid your assets from them. If they knew of all your assets, they would never get in to the separation agreement. Here you go spending tens of thousands of dollars.
  3. Lack of Duress, Mistake or Unconsiounability: These are fancy words but you can basically make sure none of them happen if you obtain independent legal advice. These words mean that someone pressured you, took advantage of your lack of understanding of your legal rights or any depression/mental illness to get you to sign the separation agreement. These are serious allegations that someone can make to cancel the separation agreement and sometimes they are accepted. If both you and youse spousal have independent lawyers overseeing the separation and separation agreement process, no one can plead these as excuses to set aside separation agreements.

How to Enter Into a Separation Agreements

After separation, you can use multiple methods to reach an agreement on your family law issues and enter in to a separation agreement. The process usually goes as follows:

  1. Choose private negotiation, mediation, arbitration, lawyer negotiation, or settlement conferences.
  2. Record all points of agreement on paper — basically the skeleton points and sign on them;
  3. Take that recording to your family lawyer and ask them to draw up a separation agreement;
  4. Show the agreement to your spouse or her/his lawyer to sign;
  5. Once the agreement is signed by everyone, file it with the courts.

A separation agreement is an all-encompassing, 20-30 page document which deals with matrimonial issues from the past, present and future. It can sometimes protect you more than a Court Order can because it looks at different past and future scenarios and provides resolutions on all issues that may be current or may arise in the future.

Why Are Separation Agreements Good for You?

Separation agreements don’t just deal with money and custody. They set definitions and guidelines on how to manage your future affairs. So if in the future you die, your estate does not go to your ex. Or if you ex decides to challenge the agreement, they will have to pay your fines and penalties. They solidify and finalize agreements on spousal support and property division. They are the cheapest and best ways to protect your present and future rights.

What Does a Separation Agreement Deal With?

A separation agreement deals with a host of issues, including but not limited to:

  1. Property Division – it provides a detailed approach on how to value property, how to divide it, whether to sell it or buy it out and how to pay for expenses associated with division of property.
  2. Debt Division – it provides an approach on who is responsible for what debt at the time of separation and how to deal with future debt arising after separation.
  3. Spousal Support – who pays for who and for how long? A spouse may agree to pay periodic or lump sum spousal support and to be released from any future claims regarding spousal support. In some circumstances, both spouses can give up all claim for spousal support.
  4. Child Support and Custody – it can provide an outline on who is to care for the children, what day/times, decision makings on behalf of children, incomes and child support payable.
  5. Divorce and Costs – it provides for who may apply for divorce, who should pay for divorce, what happens if disputes arise from the matrimonial issues, etc.
  6. Wills and Estates – it provides for what happens when one of the spouses dies. Usually the separation agreement protects the dying spouse from having to give part or all of his/her estate to the other spouse.

And much more.

To learn more about the process of settlement and how to reach a separation agreement, contact our award wining BC family lawyers by calling 604-974-9529 or get in touch. 

The content of this page was updated in May, 2017 for more freshness and comprehensiveness.

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