“Hey Siri, file my divorce.” If only it were that simple, right? When dealing with divorce or separation, the entire process may seem like a daunting experience. So it begs to ask the question, “Why can’t I just do it my self? Can I create a separation agreement without a lawyer?” Technically, yes. But we will go back to that topic afterward.
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The Divorce Act In Canada
Let’s first differentiate between what it means to be divorced and what it means to be separated. Divorce is the legal termination of a marriage and allows for you or ex-spouse to remarry. According to the Divorce Act, the single fundamental ground for divorce is the breakdown of a marriage. One must demonstrate their marriage has broken down in one of the following circumstances:
- Separation for at least a year
On the other hand, separation is defined as the act of two married persons living in separate residences or separate lifestyles. At the time of separation, it is not required for a judge to tell them they are now separated. However, the spouses enter into a separation agreement or acquire an order within Ontario courts that outline each party’s rights on matters such as child custody, child support, spousal support, property, and debts.
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Our lawyers mostly work with clients online. We offer lawyers for the court (in person) in Toronto and Ottawa. These lawyers can help you if you need to file documents or forms with the courts. They can also appear for you for motions. A court can be a scary place and it’s nice to have someone on your side. At the minimum, our lawyers also offers self-represented coaching. Even if you are going to court without a lawyer, you can still get legal advice from a lawyer.
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While separated you are still legally married to your spouse and at any time may make peace. It is important to note that a separation agreement is voluntary and is not compulsory under the law to enact a legal separation. As a matter of fact, you don’t really file for “legal separation”. A couple is legally separated as soon as one spouse decides to live separately.
Separation Agreement Without a Lawyer
Just because it is not required does not mean you should not have one. So what’s needed when creating a legal separation agreement? It is essential for both parties to be completely transparent regarding their finances and liabilities. Each spouse must enter the legal separation agreement voluntarily without duress.
Both spouses sign a written agreement in the presence of a witness. In some instances, the legal separation agreement can be put under judicial review, especially when the rights of children are concerned, the conditions of the agreement can be reversed. Legal separation agreements can be filed with the Family Responsibility Office in situations where there is uncertainty if the other party will meet the obligations and responsibilities in the agreement. This office is financed by the Government of Ontario and is capable of enforcing support payment as per the agreement.
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Can I do a separation agreement without a lawyer?
Let’s return to one of our initial questions, “Can I do a separation agreement without a lawyer?” And as mentioned before, the answer is yes. Some couples may choose this course due to legal expenses or the notion that lawyers intensify “bad blood”, or simply because they would like to handle such private proceedings themselves.
Lawyers, conversely, are trained, experienced, and equipped to deal with these proceedings in an efficient and effective manner. Foremost, lawyers ensure your legal rights are protected at all times. They recognize and resolve inequitable circumstances that could result in a possible unequal distribution of resources or an agreement to a lesser amount of support.
FAQ’s About Separation Agreement Without a Lawyer
Why do I need a lawyer?
If you make a small mistake, it will likely cost you more than hiring a lawyer. And people almost always make a mistake. It’s expensive because you might have to pay the court fees multiple times.
Can I talk to a judge by myself?
Yes, but you will have to learn the rules and procedures of the court first. You will have to file all the correct paperwork.
Is a Cohabitation Agreement Valid After Marriage?
No. You need to create a marriage agreement.
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All in all, the decision is yours. Legal separation agreements should not be taken lightly due to its complexity. It is critical that you comprehend what can and cannot be incorporated in said agreement. Apart from the content, the format and language of the agreement should appease the judge. Hence, it would also be a good idea to obtain examples to allude to.
You can try and do a separation agreement without a lawyer. If you decide you want to do it professionally, call us below or fill out the form on this page.
Are you (and your spouse) looking to discuss filing for legal separation or divorce? Please contact ClearWay Law to book a consultation with one of our lawyers. Questions? Give us a call or complete a contact form on our website!
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“It’s always better to sort things out for yourself if possible. Lawyers can be good to finish the agreements.” – Alan M
The video below is from a South Carolina lawyer, so the legal information will not be the same as Canada. The information still provides a good overview of uncontested divorce and separation agreements.
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Do I need a family lawyer?
It will depend on your situation. The best thing for you to do is to get a free consultation with a lawyer. You can then learn about the process and the costs.
Does legal aid help with custody cases?
Legal aid does cover family law cases if you are low income. Keep in mind that many clients on legal aid do not get the same attention as regular clients. Many legal aid lawyers have hundreds of clients at the same time!
Is family law provincial or federal?
It’s actually both. That is what makes it so confusing. Every province has their own provincial laws. But the Divorce Act also applies (and is federal.) You have to learn at least two Acts for family law.
What questions should I ask family lawyer?
It’s better to tell the lawyer about your case and answer the lawyers questions. Let the lawyer determine what is important in your case. They know what the courts will want to see.
At what age can a child decide where they want to live?
Each province has their own laws. There can be other complications as well if the child has a handicap. Common ages are 18 or 19 years old.
What are my legal rights in a divorce?
You have a lot. There is a provincial Act and a federal Act that determines your rights and obligations You should definately speak to a lawyer about this question.