Separation Agreements

When spouses separate, there are many issues arising from the breakdown of their marriage, or relationship as it relates to common-law spouses, that need to be resolved. These issues include but are not limited to custody of and access to the child(ren) of the relationship, parenting schedules, child support and special or extraordinary expenses, spousal support, and division of the parties’ respective net family properties also known as equalization.
 

When such a life-changing event happens, it is often difficult for parties to know where to start. The first step that we at Holam Law PC always recommend to clients is to arrange an initial consultation with an experienced family law lawyer, to identify the issues in your separation, and the processes by which those issues can be resolved, and the benefits and disadvantages of each process in relation to a client’s specific needs and goals.  

What is a Separation Agreement?

One such method to resolving all issues arising from your separation, is to negotiate and enter into a separation agreement. It is a formal document setting out agreed upon terms of separation or often defined as a domestic contract which incorporates all of the terms agreed upon between the separating spouses, ranging from children’s issues, child and spousal support, property division, and any other issue important to the client to be included in a legal document. A separation agreement generally sets out each party’s rights and obligations, such as who will make major parenting decisions in relation to the children’s education, medical and dental care, religious upbringing and extracurricular activities, where the children will reside, holiday schedules, whether child support is payable by whom and in what quantum, whether spousal support is payable, how assets are to be divided, etc., in the event of a breakdown of your relationship.
 

Negotiating and entering into a separation agreement can be one of the most cost-effective methods to resolve all issues arising from a separation. It is also a method of resolution that is entirely driven and dictated by the separating couple, instead of having orders being imposed upon them by the Court. In this regard, where the parties are capable of positive communication and cooperation, negotiating a separation agreement is the recommended process.

What Makes a Separation Agreement Legally Binding?

Creating a legally binding separation agreement or domestic contract recognized by Ontario courts will require that both parties (spouses) are honest and open about their financial circumstances. Detailed disclosure of all sources of income, all assets, as well as debts and liabilities, are required to be made under Ontario family law and legislation. The process by which full financial disclosure is made can be complicated. However, our team at Holam Law PC is well-equipped with the knowledge and technical skill to assist with this process. Our team will work to ensure that all financial, real and personal property & assets, businesses, trusts, and debts and liabilities are clearly declared from the outset. Being transparent is essential to ensure that the process is viable.

In addition to the provision of full financial disclosure, another hallmark of a legally binding and enforceable separation agreement is independent legal advice. This will ensure that you understand your individual rights and obligations under the agreement, so that you can enter it voluntarily and fully informed. It is therefore important for you and your spouse to choose your own individual lawyer who will advocate for you alone to best achieve the intended results. This will also help to create a more balanced separation agreement.

If there are intricate business holdings or various trust matters to consider, we have the experience required to navigate this often-confusing maze. We can simplify the most complicated business and finance matters for clients so that everyone is on the same page.

Generally, when all the hallmarks of a binding and enforceable separation agreement have been met, the Ontario courts have upheld these agreements. A separation agreement based on incomplete or misrepresented disclosure will likely result in a spouse challenging in court the terms of the agreement at some future date. Escalation of the dispute in litigation substantially increases legal costs and is something that many may otherwise want to avoid. Most importantly, separation agreement lacking the hallmarks noted above are unlikely to be upheld in an Ontario court once challenged. If a separation agreement or any part of it is set aside by the Court, the impugned provisions must be decided anew.

How We Help Clients Like You

Our team at Holam Law PC has extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution, such as attending four-way settlement meetings (meetings that are attended by parties and their counsel to discuss on a without prejudice basis terms of resolution), and mediation to assist our clients in arriving at terms of resolution to be incorporated into a separation agreement. We have assisted many clients in drafting and finalizing a well-crafted separation agreement to best suit our clients’ needs, as a well-crafted separation agreement is more likely to be held up by an Ontario Court if challenged by a spouse. Separation is difficult enough. Our expertise and guidance can significantly reduce stress during an already emotional time.
 
That’s why it is so important that separation agreements be negotiated with the assistance of, drafted by and then carefully reviewed by a family law lawyer who has expertise in this area. The team at Holam Law PC has the necessary experience and knowledge to help you achieve your goals in this regard.  We work closely with clients to negotiate and consequently draft an agreement that is custom-tailored to each family’s unique circumstances, taking into account the client’s goals and the best interests of the children. Our focus is always families first.
 

Contact Holam Law PC at 365-608-6161 or email us at info@holamlaw.com to schedule a consultation today.

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