Separation Agreement

Separation Agreement Lawyers in Victoria, BC

Victoria BC Divorce & Separation

During stressful times in a divorce case, a separation agreement can go a long way to relieving some of the confusion and uncertainty.

Separation agreements lay out the terms of the divorce for each partner and cover the key elements that lay the foundation for a smooth transition to single life.

There is nothing to stop this agreement from being made amicably around a kitchen table. However, most couples raise contentious issues that may need the intervention of a mediator, lawyer, arbitrator or judge.

The separation agreement lawyers at Jennings Family Law in Victoria are committed to helping you and your ex face the future confidently and with peace of mind after your divorce.

What are separation agreements?

Did you know that you and your spouse can determine the terms of your separation rather than a judge deciding for you?

Separation agreements are legally binding family law contracts that act as roadmaps for a couple after they split up.

Certain elements of a separation agreement must follow strict family law guidelines – especially with regards to children of the marriage – but drawing up your own unique agreement keeps you in control.

A court must approve the agreement but, with the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer, you can ensure compliance with the necessary family law guidelines in BC.

Considerable thought needs to go into your separation agreement as you will need to cover all of the main topics, such as:

  • Child custody
  • Parenting and living arrangements
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Division of property/debt

What legal requirements apply to separation agreements in Victoria?

British Columbia’s Family Law Act states that separation agreements made in the province must be:

  1. In writing
  2. Signed by both spouses, and
  3. Witnessed

There are other expectations and requirements. For instance, spouses must make full financial disclosure and declare all income, property, and other investments.

The agreement may be invalidated and need to be amended if other assets are discovered at a later date.

Meeting all the legal requirements and ensuring that you cover everything in your best interests can be challenging. Agreements may run to 20 or 30 pages.

With the assistance of a separation agreement lawyer, the process is made simpler and less stressful.

What to cover in your separation agreement?

A comprehensive separation agreement should cover the main contentious issues in a divorce AND certain estate issues that may arise later.

With a lawyer from Jennings Family Law, we will address the following issues in your agreement:

  • Child custody and support
    • Who will care for the children?
    • What are the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent?
    • Who will make decisions on behalf of the children?
    • How will the child’s needs be supported financially, emotionally, and practically?
  • Property and debt division
    • What is the value of the marital property and how will it be divided equitably?
    • Who is responsible for outstanding debts at the time of separation or that may arise in the future?
  • Spousal Support
    • Is there a case for one spouse to support the other financially during the transition to single life?
    • If so, how much will be paid, how frequently, and for how long?
  • Divorce and associated fees
    • Who may apply for the divorce?
    • Who should pay for it?
    • What happens if disputes arise?
  • Estate issues
    • What happens when one of the spouses dies?
    • Will the dead spouse be protected from having to bequeath part or all of the estate to the other spouse?

Will a separation agreement save us from going to court?

One of the benefits of separation agreements (which are summarised below) is to avoid the expense, stress, and delays involved with litigation.

If you can sit around the kitchen table with your ex or work it out with a lawyer or mediator, a separation agreement is preferable for most divorcing couples.

However, this won’t end your marriage. All divorces in BC must be approved by the Supreme Court before they become legal. As long as your separation agreement is professionally drawn up and meets all of the legal requirements (most importantly, addressing the needs of the children first), no court appearance may be necessary.

If everything is in good order, the judge can review and approve your agreement before signing the final divorce decree. If not, a court hearing may be required.

What are the main benefits of separation agreements?

The main benefits of a separation agreement are as follows:

  • No court appearance may be necessary
  • Lower costs and fewer delays than a litigated settlement
  • Generally, better for the children
  • You retain decision-making power (rather than a judge)
  • Helps provide peace of mind, clarity, and direction for the future
  • Helps to preserve a healthy relationship with your ex
  • May help to protect your estate from future claims

Do we need a separation agreement lawyer?

No legal assistance is required by law to prepare a separation agreement in BC.

However, with the complexities involved in such agreements, it is generally a huge challenge to attempt it without any help from a divorce lawyer.

Even if you and your spouse agree on most of the issues, you still need to create your agreement in such a way that it results in a legally enforceable document that reflects your wishes accurately and unambiguously and represents each party’s best interests.

Most couples do not have the time, legal expertise or state of mind during a separation to accomplish this effectively.

The stakes are high. Your separation agreement may be referred to many times in the coming years. It’s important to get it right.

Need assistance with your separation agreement?

At Jennings Family Law in Victoria, our divorce lawyers and mediators are committed to helping you achieve a prompt and cost-effective agreement with your spouse.

We will help you anticipate issues and address them in your agreement, ensuring that decisions are in your interests and legally enforceable.

Contact us today for a confidential consultation and case evaluation.

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