A separation agreement is a legal contract entered into by two divorcing spouses that sets out the division of property, custody of any children, child support and spousal support.
In Ontario, separation agreements are not mandatory but they can significantly reduce the costs associated with a divorce. Although you are not required to have a lawyer draft your separation agreement it is strongly recommended. You can find many do-it-yourself separation agreements online, but the risks associated with them are not worth the it in the long run. Even if you and your spouse agree to all of the terms of your separation, it is strongly recommended that you hire a lawyer to draft the document with you, or to review the document. One poorly worded sentence can have major implications down the road.
1. You want both parties to be fairly represented
It is important that the rights of both parties are respected, not only from an ethical perspective, but from a legal one as well. The courts may consider an unfair separation agreement to be invalid, even if both parties agreed to it. An experienced divorce lawyer will review all of the terms of your agreement to ensure that both spouses are fairly represented.
2. You don’t want to overlook any important points
A lawyer experienced in drafting separation agreements can help you to identify any issues you may have overlooked and can help you ensure that your separation agreement covers all relevant factors.
3. You want your document to be legally binding
Canadian courts have ruled that separation agreements without independent legal advice may not be legally binding. Seeking the advice of an experienced divorce lawyer can help you ensure that your document is enforceable and stands up in court.
4. You want to save money in the long run
People often think that they are saving money by drafting their own separation agreements. You may think that hiring a lawyer to assist you with your separation agreement is too expensive, but going to court on an improperly drafted agreement can be exponentially more costly.
For more information about separation agreements and to speak to an experienced family lawyer, please contact Jason P. Howie online or at 519.973.1500.