When a couple decides to marry, the prospect of separating is the last thing on their mind. Like most other newlyweds, they assume they’ll be together forever and don’t make any contingencies for a potential separation. With the divorce rate in Canada hovering around 40 per cent, this isn’t always the wisest course of action.
As family law experts, we see a lot of clients who separate without any sort of formal agreement in place. Their situations vary, with some having loose arrangements for certain aspects of their relationship, and others trusting they’re on good enough terms to decide on an item-to-item basis. Most of these arrangements are made in good faith, but the realities of a separation mean an official document may need to be created.
Writing a Separation Agreement Following a Divorce
Yes, it is possible to create a separation agreement after a divorce and it’s an increasingly popular arrangement. Typically, a family law expert, family justice counsellor, or even a private mediator can be enlisted to help draw up the legal document, although some couples do try to “go it alone” and create the document without legal assistance. This route can work for some, but it is just as likely to lead to legal issues down the line if the arrangement isn’t fair to both parties.
Best Practice in Creating a Separation Agreement After Divorce
To create a legally binding separation agreement after divorce, it’s considered best practice for both parties to retain independent legal advice. It’s vital to use two lawyers because lawyers are forbidden from acting on both party’s behalf in a separation due to the conflict of interest it presents.
When both parties and their legal representation are happy with the agreement, both former spouses will sign the document. At this point, it becomes legally binding. If any part of the document pertains to property or spousal support, at least one other adult must witness both parties signing the document and dating it. This person will be required to also sign the document.
Here to Help
As family law experts, the team at Westside Family Law has been a trusted advisor to countless clients going through the difficult divorce process. Need assistance with any aspect of a divorce or separation agreement? Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.