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What You Need to Know About Separation Agreements

Separation Agreements, Temporary Agreements and Court Orders

A separation agreement is a domestic contract that the parties use to settle their rights upon the breakdown of their marriage. Since the agreement covers so many important matters and often involves significant negotiation, they can take a good deal of time to finalize.

Sometimes, however, certain issues arise during the course of the separation that need to be addressed immediately. In those circumstances, your lawyer may have to draw up a temporary separation agreement which will be in place while the final agreement continues to be negotiated. If a temporary agreement can’t be reached, or if the issue is particularly urgent, you may have to go to court to seek a court order to address the issue.

Child Support is The “Right of The Child”; It’s Not Optional

For the most part, a couple can enter into a separation agreement and deal with the terms of their separation any way they wish. The one exception is child support. Child support is the right of the child; it cannot be “contracted out” of the agreement even if the couple desires to do so. Your lawyer will therefore usually advise you to follow the child support guidelines when dealing with this issue.

Ensuring That Your Separation Agreement Is Valid and Binding

After a separation agreement has been reached, you want to make sure that it is valid and binding. There are two important steps to take to ensure that the agreement is upheld:


  1. Get independent legal advice – It is essential that each party be represented by their own Toronto divorce lawyers during the separation process. If the parties use the same lawyer to draft the separation agreement, the court will probably consider this to be a conflict of interest and the agreement will likely be overturned.
  2. Make full and complete financial disclosure – In order for a separation agreement to be legally binding, both parties must make full and complete financial disclosure. Your family law lawyer will assist you with this.

Claims for Property Division Must be Made in a Timely Manner

Although separation agreements can sometimes take a while to negotiate, you must keep in mind that there are limitation periods dealing with the issue of property division. You could be statutorily barred from making a court claim for property division if you make it too late. If you are approaching the end of a limitation period, it may be advisable to bring an immediate court application to deal with the property division issue while still working out the terms of the final separation agreement. You should discuss the issue of limitation periods with your lawyer when you first meet him; he will tell you what these limitation periods are.

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