Separation Agreements

There are many varying degrees for the dissolution of marriages and common-law relationships here in Canada.  We explained a few in a previous article on types of separation and would like to further discuss a very important bi-product of this decision; a separation agreement.

Separation as it pertains to marriages and common-law relationships is the decision taken by a couple to end an existing domestic partnership.  It can consist of one spouse physically vacating the communal residence or one choosing to stay but residing in a separate room of the shared home.  One of the major factors that can signify this type of arrangement is the ceasing of sexual interaction and the sometimes more subtle changes in family dynamic (like not eating as a family, reassigning chores, etc.)

Whenever it is decided to live apart with the direct intention of dissolving the relationship, it is considered to be a legal separation.  There is no application to be filled out in order for this to be legally binding and there is also no time limit governing the parameters of a separation.  Divorce is not an inevitable outcome unless it is requested by one party; couples can stay separated indefinitely without the legal need for a divorce unless one of the parties decides to remarry. 

While we mentioned above that there was no time requirement when concerned with a separation, if the person’s intention is to separate and file for a divorce, there is a minimum time requirement for a separation.  When filing for divorce, the court requires that you complete a one year separation (the goal is to exhaust the possibility of reconciliation).  This is simplified if the involved parties are living at separate locations.  If the couple chooses to reside in the same house, it needs to be proven that there is no marital relationship (this can be difficult but done with legal representation).

The term legal separation is a common one and here in Canada, it should not to be taken literally (as it often refers to a separation agreement).

A separation agreement when defined is a legally binding agreement between a married or common-law couple who have mutually or singularly decided to live separately for an indefinite amount of time.  In many cases, both parties may agree to a separation but it is not required.  One spouse can decide that the relationship has drawn to its conclusion and a divorce can be granted through the legal system.

In a separation agreement, there are a few standard issues addressed.  One of the main purposes of such an agreement is to protect and solidify the rights of each party so there is no confusion and little discord thereafter.  Factors such as child custody, distribution of property and debts are common issues settled with a separation agreement. 

It is advisable that a separation agreement be drafted by a knowledgeable and experienced family lawyer to properly represent the rights of an individual.  Oral or ambiguous contracts can easily be challenged in court and can prove to be quite costly.   It is also advisable that each party be represented by a separate lawyer in order to aptly represent their client’s needs

Let us at Zeidman Law advise you and represent your rights during what can be a tumultuous time for anybody.  Call now for a free consultation and begin the process of adjusting to a new chapter in life.

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