Separation Agreement - Galbraith Family Law

Under Canadian law, there is no such thing as “filing for separation.” A separation begins when two spouses are living apart. In fact, a separation does not even necessarily require that the two spouses be living in two different locations. Many couples separate but continue to share the home.

Even an extended period of separation, however, does not automatically become a legal divorce. In Ontario, a separation for at least a year can serve as legal grounds for divorce, but a couple could be separated for years or even decades, but they are still legally married until they obtain an official divorce decree from a court.

Regardless of whether they ultimately divorce, separating spouses often need to make important decisions about issues such as their property and their children. A separation agreement is a legally binding document that allows a couple to make arrangements regarding child care, debts, child and spousal support, property division, and other issues pertaining to their separation. A separation agreement can be an excellent way for couples to deal with sensitive issues while minimizing delay, stress, and court involvement—but the decisions made in a separation agreement may affect a couple’s lives and the lives of their children for years to come. For this reason, an experienced family lawyer can be an important resource; your lawyer can help negotiate and draft a fair and equitable agreement that will meet your family’s needs now and in the future. Some of the issues that are often addressed in a separation agreement may include:

  • The date of the separation;
  • Issues related to the children, including where they will live, custody, each parent’s right to have access to the children and the role each parent will play in making decisions about the children, child support amounts, and any date on which child support will end;
  • The amount and duration of any spousal support payments, and any conditions on such spousal support;
  • Issues related to property, including issues regarding the family home and other assets;
  • How the couple will apportion responsibility for debts, including credit card debt, loans, and mortgages, including how to handle debts incurred during separation but before divorce.

In some cases, mediation or arbitration services may help the couple come to a fair and equitable arrangement regarding the terms of a separation agreement. An excellent process used to resolve issues is called Collaborative Practice; the parties negotiate the terms of a separation agreement by working with lawyers and other professionals.  In cases of divorce, the terms of a separation agreement may be subject to review by a court, but in most cases, a court will honor the terms of such an agreement as long as they are fair.

The Barrie law firm of Galbraith Family Law is committed to providing top-flight legal services for every client. The firm helps clients resolve issues related to separation and divorce, including custody, access, child support, spousal support, equalization and division of property. They are experienced in many types of approaches to family law matters, from collaborative law to litigation. Brian Galbraith brings more than 20 years of legal experience to his cases, and has earned a reputation in the Ontario legal community as a lawyer of honesty, integrity, and passion—qualities his clients need and appreciate. He understands first-hand the uncertainty and upheaval a divorce can cause, and is committed to providing his clients with sound legal advice during difficult times in their lives. Brian Galbraith’s office is located at 124 Dunlop St. West, Barrie, Ontario L4N 1B1 or he can be reached by calling (705) 999-8957.