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Separation Agreements


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There are a number of advantages to you and your spouse entering into a Separation Agreement.  First and foremost you get the advantage of certainty - you will know the precise arrangement for all of your assets and liabilities, your children (custody and access),  support obligations and the matrimonial home amongst other things.  Letting the court decide these issues leaves both parties in relative uncertainty.  

I provide Separation Agreement services that include: (1) working with you and your spouse and your unique circumstances to draft an amicable separation agreement and (2) providing independent legal advice (ILA) to one of the two spouses if so required.  The importance of ILA cannot be understated as it serves to ensure that the agreement that is entered into between the parties is an agreement that will not be set aside or litigated in the courts.

My fee for drafting a Separation Agreement is dependent upon the complexity of the parties' individual situation.  A standard fee for a separation agreement is $750.00.  My fee for Independent Legal Advice (ILA) to one of the parties to a Separation Agreement is a 1 hour fee of $249.99 + GST.  

Preparation for a Separation Agreement - The most important thing to remember when going the route of a separation agreement is that you and your spouse have to agree on the content of an agreement.  This means that you and your spouse have to have an agreed upon position on each and every issue.  Therefore, in order to prepare to complete a separation agreement, the best thing you can do is to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with your spouse about what the agreement will include.  Some of the main issues of course are the following: (a) date of separation, (b) custody and access arrangements of children, (c) child or spousal support (d) possession/sale of matrimonial home, (e) division of property, including ownership or responsibility for specific assets or liabilities.  There may be more issues to resolve after you have consulted with a lawyer, but these are the big ones.  It is also imperative that each party make full financial disclosure of their individual financial circumstances.  Oftentimes, you will not consider this an important step.  However, it is essential that you have full financial disclosure before you can make an informed decision about what interests/rights you will give up.  A family lawyer that does not review the issue of financial disclosure with his or her client is potentially negligent and does a disservice to the client.  The court has made it clear that a lack of financial disclosure is one method by which a separation agreement may be set aside (not followed).

After you have an arrangement between you and your client, you should pass this information to your lawyer and your lawyer will advise you as to the legal effects and consequences of your agreement.  This may lead to you wishing to alter the arrangement in some respect.  Keep in mind that the other party will need to agree to any alterations.  It is absolutely essential that you understand the agreement and that you are entering into the agreement conscientiously and voluntarily.  A second way of setting aside an agreement is a lack of proper formation, whereby one of the parties does not understand what they are agreeing to or they are not entering the agreement voluntarily.

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                                                                  Last modified: April 25, 2011 10:24 PM