What Exactly Is A Separation Agreement?

If you seek to split up from your long-term partner or spouse, you may wonder what it takes to become "legally separated." Legal separation has almost nothing to do with having a separation agreement. Under BC's family law, couples who have lived separate and apart for at least one year are considered legally separated. "Separate and apart" could mean anything from one person moving to the basement to moving to another province or country.

A separation agreement outlines the specific provisions of what your separation looks like from a material standpoint. In other words, it details your rights and responsibilities regarding the division of shared property and debt, custody and access, and in some cases, financial support of or from your former partner.

In short, a separation agreement is your legal guarantee that the decisions you two made when ending your relationship can be enforced if you file it with the Court.

Making Decisions Now That Protect Your Future Stability

At Westside Family Law, we know the decisions you make today will have significant impact on your future, whether or not they are codified in a legal document. Our lawyers will seek family law resolutions that protect what matters most to you. This, of course, will depend on your unique circumstances and goals, but in general includes:

  • Seeking an equitable share of the assets you helped build during the relationship
  • Ensuring that any family debt you possess is divided fairly
  • Protecting your access to and time with your children, if you have any
  • Protecting inheritances, personal investments and other property covered by a cohabitation or marriage agreement
  • Seeking spousal support (even as a common law partner or spouse) or minimizing support obligations

How Is Separation Different From Divorce?

Only married people can get divorced under the law. Common law couples who separate do not require a court order to signify that the parties are separated. Common law couples may still require a court order or separation agreement to resolve issues of parenting time, division of assets and support. Married couples may also negotiate a separation agreement, since they must live separate and apart for at least one year before filing for divorce.

You also do not need to go to Court to get a separation agreement, though you may file your agreement with the Court to ensure that it is enforceable. Many families end up negotiating the terms of their separation through alternative dispute processes like mediation or collaborative law. Of course, high-conflict cases may require Court intervention, but these are generally rare.

You Advocate Now And For Life

Hopefully, with the right preparation and representation, you will never have to enforce the agreements you make today. Even if you do, or if you need to renegotiate an existing agreement, we have extensive experience to put on your side. If you need an ally to resolve your family law issue, contact our office in Vancouver today by calling 604-800-8853. We will give you our full attention and respect, and we always will.