4 Tips To Ensure Your Separation Agreement Is Enforceable

Four Tips To Ensure Your Separation Agreement is Enforceable

If you have read our previous blog post (see here), you should now know there are significant advantages to retaining an experienced family lawyer to draft your separation agreement. You might now be asking, how do I actually ensure my ex-partner actually follows this agreement? We outline some of our top tips below:

(1.) Have it in writing

This may sound obvious but make sure your separation agreement is in writing! A verbal separation agreement is not legally binding.

The separation agreement must be:

  • Dated – to demonstrate when the couples reached this arrangement.
  • Signed by the participating parties – to demonstrate the parties’ agreement to the terms and
  • Signed by a third party witness – to ensure there has been no forgery.

(2.) Obtain full financial disclosure

As explained in the previous section, full financial disclosure on behalf of the parties and obtaining independent legal advice is a necessary step when completing the separation agreement. If the parties have not engaged in proper financial disclosure, the enforceability of the agreement is very low. A court will not enforce a separation agreement if a party was not fully aware of the other party’s financials.

(3.) Obtain Independent Legal Advice

You should get independent legal advice before signing an agreement, even if you and the other party have written it yourselves. Having each party obtain independent legal advice prevents one party from relying on the fact that they did not know what they were agreeing to, that they were not aware of their rights at the time. If a party is not capable of fully understanding what they are agreeing to, or aware of the consequences of such an agreement are, it cannot be a binding contract.

(4.) File the agreement with Court

The final step after an agreement has been drafted is to file it with the court so that it can be enforced. It becomes an even more important step if there are support obligations in the separation agreement. The separation agreement allows the enforcement of support obligations through the Family Responsibility Office. If the court is not aware of the spousal support obligations, it cannot enforce them.

Changing and Varying a Separation Agreement

While a separation agreement is meant to be enduring, the terms are not necessarily fixed forever. Where the circumstances of the spouses have changed, or something has occurred that could not have been contemplated during the drafting of the agreement, changes can be made.

The parties are able to set aside the agreement entirely and agree to a fresh one, or the spouses can together agree to amend an existing term to better reflect any new circumstances.

Where there is a dispute between the parties in respect of the desired variation, a separation agreement should have designated dispute resolution methods. These can be negotiations between the parties, with or without a lawyer. An arbitrator can make a binding decision on the parties after their arguments have been presented (see our blog post on ADR here).

Tailor Law can help you understand how a separation agreement applies to your situation. Family law and separation agreements are our areas of expertise and we can help navigate you through this difficult time.

If you are looking for more information or have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to discuss your matter over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us online here.

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