A separation agreement is a legally binding written agreement voluntarily signed by two spouses (either married or common law) who are in the process of separating or who have already separated. This written agreement usually resolves all issues arising from the separation, including custody and access, child support, spousal support and the division of property. A separation agreement can also deal with issues often forgotten, such as life and health insurance. The only issue a separation agreement cannot resolve is the actual divorce itself.
A separation agreement helps to minimize the potential for conflict in the future by clearly and fully setting out the terms of settlement reached by the spouses. A separation agreement will also often include terms which will assist the spouses if the agreement needs to be changed in the future.
For a separation agreement to be legally binding, the agreement must be entered into voluntarily, with neither spouse under any duress to sign. Each spouse must also provide the other with full financial disclosure, including all their assets and debts. Finally, each party must fully understand the terms of the agreement and the implications it may have on them in the future. To ensure this last requirement is met, each spouse should consult with a lawyer. Once a separation agreement has been entered into, each spouse has the same rights as if the terms of the agreement had been made by the court.
Steps to the Completion of a Separation Agreement: