Surrey Separation Agreements Lawyer
A Separation Agreement is the first step in the uncontested divorce process for most couples. A signed Separation Agreement will confirm that all spousal support, child support, child access and custody, property and pension division issues have been settled between the parties and that there is an agreed process for transferring or selling the home or other assets. Contact Surrey separation agreement lawyer today.
Any contract between spouses dealing with Family Law Act of BC and the Divorce Act of Canada issues is broadly referred to as a “Family Law Agreement”.
The Family Law Act of BC largely treats married relationships and common law relationships (unmarried spouses who live together for two or more years) on the same basis.
A Family Law Agreement determining how a married or common law relationship will be conducted – and how a potential breakup of that relationship will be managed – is called a Marriage Agreement or Prenuptial (“Prenup”) Agreement (in the case of a marriage) and a Cohabitation (“Cohab”) Agreement, in the case of a common law relationship.
A Family Law Agreement made at separation or anticipation of separation is called a (wait for it) Separation Agreement.
Any one of these types of Family Law Agreements, properly drafted by one spouse’s a lawyer and reviewed by the other spouse’s lawyer – and signed by both parties – might have settled all the collateral issues that might arise on the breakup of a relationship. However, most spouses don’t have the foresight to invest in a Prenup or Cohab Agreement and will instead enter into a Separation Agreement to settle collateral issues on breakup.
For married spouses, entering into a lawyer-prepared Separation Agreement will ensure that a simple, low-cost, uncontested divorce is possible.
A signed, lawyer-prepared Separation Agreement is also required by mortgage lenders who need to calculate a spouse’s debt service ratio to see if they qualify for carrying the mortgage on the old home – or the replacement home – without the support of the other spouse. The Separation Agreement will outline which spouse will pay or receive spousal and/or child support and will allow a lender to gauge whether you can support a new mortgage.
In order for a Separation Agreement to provide the highest benefits for you and your spouse, it should be drafted by a lawyer after both parties have fully disclosed their financial circumstance – including the Swiss bank account and the Bit-Coin account – and both clients have received independent legal advice before signing it.
Separation Agreements are often struck down by courts if one spouse has received an unfair advantage by hiding assets or income or by luring the other spouse into signing an unfortunate agreement by suggesting they don’t need to consult their own lawyer. If divorce will result in the sale, refinancing or purchase of a home, banks and mortgage lenders will require a thorough Separation Agreement signed by both spouses who have had the benefit of independent legal advice before signing.
Separation Agreements will state whether standard or “guideline” amounts of spousal support will be paid and for how many months and years – or whether spousal support is waived.
Spousal support is calculated by adding the combined gross incomes of both spouses and dividing by 2. The higher-earning spouse will pay the lower-earning spouse sufficient of his or her income that the spouses will earn a similar net income after taxes. Spousal support is paid for a duration equal to 50% to 100% of the duration of the relationship (or more), subject to the obligation of a spouse to retrain, if need be, and to seek fulltime employment to the extent that raising the children of the marriage will permit.
Tax credits, allowances, disability and WorkSafe payments, and similar adjustments will cloud the picture somewhat but it is generally true to say that if both spouses have similar incomes, no spousal support will be payable by either party.
Separation Agreements will also divide the equity in the home, the savings accounts and the pensions accrued by both spouses during the course of the relationship.
Often there is a mechanism where one spouse buys the other spouse’s interest in the family home (condo/Townhome/house/cottage/co-op, etc.) or where these properties are sold and the net equity is split between the spouses in an appropriate fashion.
Parenting issues are also complex requiring careful consideration. The custody and guardianship of children, access and parenting schedules, applying for passports, authority to travel, schooling issues, extended medical coverage, special needs and extraordinary expenses, must all be patiently negotiated and recorded.
The reward for this attention to detail is a relatively quick, uncontested divorce application wherein a signed Separation Agreement is appended as evidence that all collateral family issues have been dealt with appropriately.
A properly prepared Separation Agreement will survive the divorce itself and provide certainty and stability for spouses and children going forward.