Separation Agreement Ontario
Toronto Separation Agreement Lawyers
Contact Simple Divorce to determine your eligibility for a FREE consultation regarding your separation agreement ! (416) 901-7992
If you are separating in Ontario and require a separation agreement, please contact our firm immediately. Not only are our separation agreement lawyers familiar with the process and legal issues involved in drafting a legally valid separation agreement, we do so at an affordable price.
What is a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a domestic contract that may, to a certain degree, supersede or alter the legal rights of the spouses. Ontario law allows spouses to enter into a separation agreement that covers various issues such as child custody, spousal support, property, debts, pensions, RRSPs, RESPs, and etc. A separation agreement is not required to get a divorce in Ontario. However, rather than going to court and potentially spending thousands of dollars in legal fees to resolve your issues, a separation agreement is a fairly affordable method of resolving your issues. Once executed by the parties, a separation agreement is treated as a court order which may then be enforced later on if one of the spouses fails to abide by the terms of the separation agreement.
Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Separation Agreement in Ontario
A temporary separation agreement is one that remains in effect until the couple gets divorced while a permanent agreement is still valid after divorce. It is basically a guide on how you and your former partner will handle your issues after your relationship has ended and can be made by married couples or those living common law. Separation agreements in Ontario are regulated under the Family Law Act. You can create a temporary separation agreement to ensure such provisions as parenting decisions and spousal support are covered. When filed in court, a judge will have the final say in your permanent agreement and could refuse to recognize it. There is no time limit on a temporary agreement, which can ultimately become the final pact. A separation agreement can be incorporated into the final decree of divorce.
Separation Agreement Documents You Will Need
To make Ontario separation agreement binding you must follow certain rules to ensure the court can intervene in the event that one partner fails to live up to its conditions. Some couples have a domestic contract, or prenup that can help develop a framework for a separation agreement. A typical separation agreement in Ontario will spell out the couple’s background, such as the date they were married, their children and their assets and debts. This document includes details on any spousal support obligations. You do not need separation agreement lawyers to draft an agreement, although it is recommended that you seek advice since anything you agree to could potentially have a bearing on parenting arrangements, finances and your future plans. You do not need a formal separation agreement when your relationship ends. However, it is recommended since a verbal deal can be difficult to uphold in court if one partner refuses to honour the terms of the deal.
Reasons to Make Separation Agreement in Ontario
Besides ensuring the care and welfare of any children from the marriage, making a separation agreement in Toronto is important to protect any assets accumulated during the relationship. This agreement will deal with the division of property, spousal or child support, and how debts will be resolved. If you are staying in the matrimonial home, it will also spell out your obligations for paying bills and maintenance. Coming up with your own agreement can be faster and less expensive than going through the court system.
Filing a Separation Agreement in Toronto, Ontario
When couples separate there are many issues they must address. It is important that both spouses are fully informed of their rights and obligations upon separating to avoid a situation of an unreasonable separation agreement – which may be overturned in certain situations by the courts. During the course of drafting of the separation agreement the major issues that should be addressed include the following:
- Personal information
Contains personal information of the parties involved (names, date of birth, etc.)
- Child Custody and Access Issues
Custody arrangements, living arrangements, access issues, what happens if a parent wants to move with the child, and etc.
How the responsibility for debts will be treated.
- Property Division and Equalization
Will touch upon issues relating to the division of property, any equalization payments owed by the spouse with the higher net worth, the matrimonial home (whether a spouse will buy out the other, who will be responsible for the mortgage, who will reside in it, whether it will be sold, how proceeds will be divided if sold, and etc.).
- Dispute Resolutions
Alternative dispute resolution employs a neutral third-party mediator and can be an effective method to deal with the division of property, issues of custody and access, and spousal/child support disputes. Both parties must agree on dispute resolution.
- Important dates
All important dates, including the date of marriage and separation
- Spousal Support
How much spousal support will be paid, how long will it be paid and whether spousal support will be waived.
- RRSPs, RESPs, Pensions, and other related legal issues
When it comes to financial considerations such as RRSPs, RESPs and pensions, it is always prudent to seek advice from a trained professional. For example, RRSPs are a pre-tax asset, a fact that can be overlooked when dividing property. As well, a valuation of pensions may be necessary to determine their worth.
- Medical Benefits
Were you covered under your partner’s health care plan before your relationship ended? If so, how will that plan change? Some employee plans will not provide coverage to non-spouses. You may have to look into purchasing your own medical benefits.
- Matrimonial Home
Many issues can arise with a matrimonial home during a separation, such as who will live in it, will it be sold and who maintains it until it goes on the market? It is possible to be separated and live in the matrimonial home as long as you and your former partner are not seen as a couple under the law.
How To Make Separation Agreement
One of the first things you should turn your mind to is the date of separation, especially if you have assets that will be divided. The value of any property including the matrimonial home is assessed using that date. As well, if you plan on getting a divorce you must be considered to be living “separate and apart” for at least one year. You will need to take stock of your financial situation to determine how to split your assets. If the matrimonial home is to be sold how will the proceeds be divided? Determine how much, if anything, will be paid in spousal/child support. Determine how pensions or RRSPs will be split and have a plan for property such as automobiles, furniture and other personal items. Collect financial statements and chronicle your assets and liabilities. If you have children, you will also need a parenting plan that both parties can agree on. For some couples, pet ownership can be an issue. Be sure you have a complete picture because once you sign a separation agreement it is binding.
What Should You Do If You Agree on Spousal Support?
Marriage is viewed as a financial partnership in the eyes of the law. When that partnership ends a spouse with more assets or income may be required to pay support, though that is not automatic. If you can’t agree on support with your former partner you may have to seek the court’s help. If there is a support order and your spouse refuses to pay, you can seek legal advice. Ontario’s Family Responsibility Office can also take action, which could include a driver’s licence suspension, garnishing a bank account or putting a lien on the property of the person who refuses to pay. Seeking advice is always the safest way to ensure the support agreement you are about to sign is the one that is best for you.
What to Do if You Can’t Make a Separation Agreement
You cannot force your partner to sign a separation agreement. If you fail to reach a satisfactory arrangement you need to speak to a divorce lawyer. Alternative dispute resolution may help the two sides come together. If not, both sides can present their case to a family law judge who will enforce an agreement.
Court Refuses to Recognize Separation Agreement. What’s Next?
A family court judge will have the final say in your agreement and has the power to reject it if it is seen to be blatantly unfair, or if the terms are not in the best interests of the children or if one spouse has not fully disclosed certain liabilities or assets. If that happens you should consult separation agreement lawyers to determine why it wasn’t accepted and find a more equitable agreement.
In order to avoid a circumstance where the courts do not recognize a separation agreement in Ontario, it is important that both spouses are transparent about the issues they wish to settle. Please note that there are circumstances in which a separation agreement may not be recognized by the courts, such as inadequate disclosure by a spouse. In order to avoid such a circumstance it is important that both spouses are transparent about the issues they wish to settle in the separation agreement. Furthermore, it is recommended that once a separation agreement is drafted that independent legal advice be sought regarding the terms of the separation agreement prior to signing the separation agreement.
In most cases, a separation agreement requires parties to engage in financial disclosure. The process of financial disclosure requires parties to disclose their income, assets and debts for the date of marriage and date of separation. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that the parties were fully informed of the financial situation of each party during negotiations. Furthermore, the financial disclosure requirement takes on more importance in cases where a party is releasing their right to an equalization, property or support payment. Without the requirement of financial disclosure being satisfied there is always a high risk of an separation agreement being overturned.
Independent Legal Advice
Another important requirement in finalizing a separation agreement is that of Independent Legal Advice. Each party must have their own separation agreement lawyer who will provide them with advice on the terms of the their agreement. The lawyer will also ensure that a party is not signing a separation agreement involuntarily, under any undue influence or due to any threats. As in financial disclosure, if a party is releasing or waiving an important right, it becomes necessary to ensure that this party receives Independent Legal Advice. If not, this could also be used as a way to overturn the separation agreement in the future.
Why Choose Our Separation Agreement Lawyers to Prepare Your Separation Agreement
AFFORDABLE & QUICK
Simple Divorce makes the separation agreement process as simple and affordable as possible. We are confident that our fees are one of the lowest in the industry.
LAWYERS WHO ARE INSURED AND FULLY TRAINED
Only a licensed separation agreement lawyer is able to provide legal advice with respect to drafting a separation agreement in Ontario. Choosing a licensed separation agreement lawyer to assist with your separation agreement is a must – not only are we insured by the Law Society of Upper Canada, but we are also provided extensive training. This means that we are required to maintain minimum quality standards that ensure your case is handled professionally and with the due care it deserves.
Ontario Separation Agreement Fees
The price of a separation agreement through Simple Divorce start from $500 for a simple clean separation agreement (a general waiver with no support, child or property issues). If you wish to include other issues in the separation agreement or if financial disclosure is required, additional fees apply.
Please note, that in Ontario it is highly advised to obtain an independent legal advice certificate in order to reduce the likelihood of a court setting aside a separation agreement. Our firm’s fee for independent legal advice is $500.
For more information on how Simple Divorce can assist you with drafting a separation agreement please fill out the form on the right or give us a call at 416-901-7992.
Other Articles to Read
Divorce and Separation
Family Justice Services
Child Custody and Access
Division or Equalization of Family Property
Treatment of a Matrimonial Home
Enforcement of Support Payments