Separation Agreements

Whether you are already separated or thinking of separating, you should be well informed about the options available to you. It is always a good idea to contact a family law lawyer about your matter so that you can get the best advice for your situation and specific needs.

Separations can be rather informal, and often times, parties do not realize that they have not protected their assets after separation. Generally, parties who are separating tend to commit their future intentions in writing, with the intention that this become an agreement between them to live by after the relationship has ended.

In its simplest form, a separation agreement is a written contract between two parties who have consensually agreed to terms usually involving, but not limited to, custody and access of any children of the relationship, support issues, division of property, assets and debts.

A properly executed separation agreement can alleviate much of the stress couples experience during an emotional transition time.

It is important to remember that a signed separation agreement does not ensure its validity. Three things must exist for a separation agreement to be valid. First, the separation agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Second, the parties must have received independent legal advice prior to signing the agreement. Lastly, there must have been full and frank financial disclosure between each of the parties.

Financial Disclosure is often times the Achilles heal of separation agreements and their enforceability. This can be relatively straightforward or very complex depending on the circumstances.

At Heft Law, we are committed to providing you with efficient resolutions to your family law matters.

Financial Disclosure is the Heart of Separation Agreements

The heart of separation agreements is financial disclosure. Financial disclosure relates to the income and net worth of both parties, taking into account their assets and debts, both jointly and severally. These have a direct impact on issues of support, be it spousal or child, as well as any claim for equalization.

It is imperative that the parties make full and frank disclosure. For matters that are going to court, financial disclosure is mandatory, and parties must comply with any and all relevant financial documentation that needs to be disclosed.

Generally,  financial disclosure entails that both parties complete a financial statement and provide supporting documentation. This includes, but is not limited to, the last three years of income tax returns, the last three years of Notices of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and Re-Assessment, current pay stubs, as well as bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, and loans.

In more complex cases, it may be necessary to provide appraisals, business valuations, income determinations and pension valuations. If your matter is complex in nature, or you are a business owner, then your financial disclosure may be more intricate, and you may need to contact a lawyer for advice.