When married or common law spouses separate there are multiple issues that must be resolved. These issues may include, but are not limited to, custody, access, child support, property division, and spousal support.
One method of resolving these issues is through negotiation. The final terms agreed upon between former spouses are detailed in a document referred to as a Separation Agreement.
It is critical for individuals to seek legal advice prior to agreeing to terms of settlement and the execution of a Separation Agreement. An Agreement is negotiated in the “shadow of the law”. That is, the parties negotiate a resolution with an understanding of their legal rights, obligations and entitlements, and how the issues would likely be resolved should the matter be litigated. As such, a lawyer provides an individual with an understanding of their rights, obligations and entitlements upon separation. A lawyer may also assist you in understanding what to expect during the negotiation of an Agreement and the steps necessary to resolve all issues arising out of your separation.
The negotiation of a Separation Agreement will likely involve the exchange of financial disclosure and Financial Statements. This is an important stage of the process, as it provides your legal counsel with the ability to have a full understanding of your circumstances during your relationship and upon separation. Upon the exchange of full and complete financial disclosure, your lawyer will be able to protect your interests and provide you with accurate legal advice with respect to each of the financial issues, such as support payments and property division.
In some cases, the negotiation of a Separation Agreement may also include the involvement of other professionals, such as therapists, parenting coordinators, accountants, and financial advisors.
Once parties have reached terms of settlement with a full understanding of the nature and consequences of such settlement, these terms shall be incorporated into a Separation Agreement. A properly negotiated and executed Separation Agreement is a domestic contract, and as such, is enforceable between the parties.