What Is A Separation Agreement?
One of the most common reasons that someone reaches out to a family law firm is to have a separation agreement created. Separation agreements can conclude a common-law relationship or a marriage. A separation agreement is useful because it is a way to get closure or to bring a family law dispute to a hopeful end. Separation agreements can be challenged years later if they are not properly created.
It is important to pick a family law firm that is right for you. Search for lawyers that are not desperate for work and charge a reduced rate for a one-hour consultation. If a lawyer is desperate for work, there may be a good reason why.
ClearWay Law has law firms in British Columbia, Toronto, and Ottawa. We can also service anywhere in Ontario. You can call us toll-free at 1-844-466-6529
We offer very low rates for separation agreements. Reach out to us via live chat for a quote.
If you are in a common-law relationship, you should speak with a family lawyer to see if a separation agreement makes sense, or if you should create another agreement instead. You are still able to seek a division of assets and spousal support as common law. Anyone can seek child support payments regardless of marriage or common-law status.
It is better if the couple can negotiate privately on the terms before reaching out to the lawyer. The lawyer can then draft the agreement. This approach saves a lot of money on legal fees. Many lawyers charge a flat fee for drafting the agreement, but their hourly rate for negotiations. You can expect to pay a lawyer around $250-550 per hour for negotiating. In some cities, senior lawyers even charge up to $1000 per hour!
Separation agreements- How do they work?
Many people contact our law firm looking for separation agreements in BC and Ontario. The nice thing about our law firm is that we operate online. That means that it doesn’t matter where you are in British Columbia or Ontario, we can help you. We have family lawyers in both provinces. If you are in Toronto, or a town with 500 people, our law firm can still help you. We use the phone, email and video chat software to communicate with our clients. The fact that our lawyers work from home saves us money on rent. Since we save money on rent, we can offer lower prices for family law agreements. It’s as simple as that.
Callers to our law firm often haven’t heard of a separation agreement. Instead, they ask us to do the divorce paperwork. If you have assets, debts or children the courts and banks will want to see a written agreement in place. The bank will want to see that before approving anything new. The courts will want to see the agreement before approving the divorce. Therefore, the steps to divorce are often.
- Get a separation agreement created
- File for divorce
The fees and waiting time will depend on if you are in Vancouver, Duncan, Toronto or Ottawa. If you are in other cities, we would just file online for you. Many courts offer lower court fees with the e-filing of divorces.
Our family attorneys can assist with the following:
- cohabitation agreement
- independent legal advice
- legal information
- dispute resolution
- division of property
- sorting out the family property
- custody and access
- general legal services
Family Law Can Be Expensive
A separation agreement is a formal contract between the two spouses and it must be professionally drafted. If the agreement is not created properly or if it is deemed unfair to one of the spouses, it may be deemed void by a family judge.
If it is not fair to children it is almost certain that it will not be upheld. It is also important that both parties understand the contract and enter it willingly.
Once one of the spouses receives the separation agreement from the other lawyer, it is important that they get their own family lawyer to go over the agreement with them. This is called independent legal advice and it will be covered in another post. A lawyer’s loyalty can only be to one client, not to both sides.
It is important to note that a divorce agreement is the same thing as a separation agreement.
Learning More About Separation And Divorce
What happens when you hire a lawyer is that a demand or friendly letter is sent to your spouse saying that you want to create the agreement. It will make it clear that you want to come to mutual terms. The agreement will also make it clear that going to family law court is very expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. Often the issues between the parties will be made clear, and suggestions for how to move forward will be suggested.
The success of the agreement will depend on how many issues there are. Further, it will depend on if the suggestions take into account the other spouse’s feelings and the best interests of the child. Things get more intense when the other spouse doesn’t respond to the letter. In that case, the family lawyer needs to “turn up the heat.”
After a few attempts of reaching the other person, the lawyer might have to file a motion or an application in chambers. If the other party gets served and doesn’t show up, the judge or master might give you what you want on the spot. If the other side shows up self-represented, your lawyer might still win the case. The judge will set the rules going forward and might require a response from the other party by a certain date.
Again, the rules will be different depending on if you are in BC or Ontario. We have family lawyers in both provinces. Some cities like Vancouver and Toronto might be easier to get a date in chambers for applications. If you live in a more remote area, and your hearing is in the supreme court, you might have to wait a week or two to be heard by a judge.
Separation Agreements Versus Going To Family Law Court
Very often someone might ignore a letter, but once they receive a court date, they start to panic. They might take things much more seriously and decide to negotiate. A good family lawyer starts small and turns up the heat. That means you end up paying the least amount of legal fees possible to get the results you need.
Both sides have to have their own lawyers. If one side created the agreement, the other side will need to get ILA.
Under no situation should one lawyer represent or work with both parties. It’s against law society rules. If a lawyer was representing you and your spouse, you should report them to the law society.
For ILA, the family lawyer will make sure you understood what you are signing. Further, they will make sure you were sound of mind, not drunk, and you were not forced to sign the agreement. The lawyer doing the check will also want to make sure that financial disclosure was done correctly. Keep in mind that if the lawyer doesn’t think their client was treated right, they might not sign the ILA. Many people don’t know that lawyers can refuse to do so. The lawyer is liable for the legal advice they give.
Legal Information On How To Get A Separation Agreement
Another thing that can go wrong with divorce agreements is if one of the spouses does not disclose assets or debts. In the future, one of the spouses could learn of the hidden assets and ask a judge to void the divorce agreement. Both parties must give an honest list of assets, debts and tax returns to their own family attorney.
You cannot waive financial disclosure. It must be part of the separation agreement. If you don’t have the disclosure, the agreement becomes much less valid. You can disclosure more or less depending on your circumstances. You will speak with the lawyer you hire about the right information to provide, and the right information to request.
- Common Law Legal Opinion Letter From A Lawyer
- How to make a Codicil to a Will in Canada
- Hague Convention – Family Law
Some clients contact our law firm and want us to create an agreement that says their spouse does not get anything. They want us to pressure the other spouse into signing it. There are two problems with this.
- People must enter into agreements willingly
- If the contract is unfair, it can be voided later
It is far better to at least offer your spouse something to show you were trying to be fair.
Separation Agreement- Provides A Guideline
A separation agreement is also useful for providing guidelines for how things will move forward with the relationship. The agreement often outlines the division of assets, child custody, parenting times, spousal support and child support.
The hope of having a separation agreement done is that you will avoid more expensive options such as mediation, arbitration, and the family law court system. Spending a few thousand today can save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future.
Some people choose to not have a separation agreement done and instead they just file for divorce in their local court. They still must pay the court fee ($400+). This is OK if you don’t have children or assets. If you do, you will be required to have a family lawyer create a separation agreement for you.
If someone receives your letter and/or separation agreement draft and ignores it, you will have to start a court action against them. Often once a court action is started, the negotiation starts.
In conclusion, a separation agreement is arguably the most important part of the divorce process. This is where all the terms of the divorce or separation are agreed to and prevent the problems from becoming expensive and going on for years. Spend a few thousand dollars now to save a lot of time and money in the future.
Separation Agreement- What About Property?
There are rules for dealing with assets and debts. Under the Family Law Act, as long as you are considered a spouse, the rules are the same. You can create a separation agreement, but a judge can deem it to be invalid. You must provide financial disclosure and must receive independent legal advice. Both parties must have their own lawyer. The judge might also say the agreement is invalid is it was very unfair. Judges also do not have to divide the assets equally. Forget what you heard about “50/50.”
There are some assets that are not normally included in the division of assets during a separation.
- Assets brought into the relationship/marriage
But as always with family law there are exceptions.
As you can see in the video below, you have two options when going through a family law dispute. Either get an agreement created or get a court order. A separation agreement normally costs around $2000-3000. Going to family law court starts at $5000 and can easily be around $30,000. As such, we recommend domestic agreements whenever possible.
Get An Agreement That Is Legally Binding
Family property is included in the division of assets. These are the assets that either spouse got during the relationship. Family property is shared equally between spouse unless agreed to, or court-ordered to, otherwise.
The family property also includes an increase in the value of the excluded property that happens during the relationship.
In conclusion, like us on Facebook to stay up to date with changes in family law. You can also reach out to our law firm via the live chat function in the bottom right of the screen. Don’t leave it to chance, make sure your agreement is legally binding. Get it professionally done by an attorney.