The Anatomy of a Separation

Going through a separation with your partner may be emotionally and financially overwhelming. However, there are ways to work amicably with your spouse to reach an outcome that benefits both parties without resorting to litigation.

A separation agreement gives you and your partner the chance to come to a mutual agreement on several issues you’re facing and decide a course on how you hope to deal with them in the future. The following are elements to include in the agreement, as stated in Section 54 of the Family Law Act:

· Ownership in or division of property;

· Support obligations;

· The right to direct the education and moral training of their children;

· The right to custody of and access to their children; and

· Any other matter in the settlement of their affairs.

Before drafting the agreement, you must both agree on the issues at hand. This may be done in person, through the phone or via email. You may also choose to have a third-party present, such as a lawyer, in order to receive expert legal advice and guidance. In this way, you’re both well-equipped with the law in regard to your matters. A lawyer may assist you in the following:

· The claims you can make if you separate or divorce

· Your rights and responsibilities toward your children and your partner

· The rules your agreement has to follow

· How your rights change once you sign the agreement

In order for the agreement to be valid, it must follow the rules as laid out in the Family Law Act. In this way, if either partner fails to respect their obligations, they may be held accountable in court.

In the case that your agreement does not follow the rules, either you or your partner may ask the court to “set aside” the agreement, which gives you both the permission to stop following the terms of it. These rules state that the agreement must be:

· In writing

· Have a date

· Signed by both people who are making the agreement

· Witnessed, which means you and your partner have to sign the agreement in front of another person

· Signed by the witness

Either you or your partner can file the separation agreement with the court for them to have a copy. You must ensure it has not been changed. Filing the agreement with the court will ensure two things:

(1) it will allow you and your partner to follow the terms of the agreement, and

(2) the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) will be able to enforce support payments.

The FRO is recognized as a government agency that keeps track of the support given from the payor to the payee. They collect the support from the paying partner and distribute it to the receiving parent. Getting the FRO involved is a decision made by both parents. They may choose not to if they have a cordial dynamic and don’t expect any problems in the future.

The separation process may long and difficult for both partners. It is important to seek proper guidance on the laws in place regarding the separation agreement and having support overall. The decisions that are made during the process of separation have long-lasting effects in the future for everyone involved.

If you have decided to draft a separation agreement and require some assistance, we are here to help you. At Tailor Law, our lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced in the legal requirements and processes of drafting a separation agreement. If you want more information, do not hesitate to contact us at 905-366-0202, or visit our website here.

Sources:

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90f03#BK59

https://stepstojustice.ca/steps/family-law/1-discuss-what-legal-issues-you-can-agree

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