We know how hard this can be. Our goal is to empower our clients to make the right decisions about their children and their finances when the family separates. We do this by providing clear, comprehensible legal information, reliable legal advice and appropriate process options for our clients’ consideration.
For most separating families, the goal is a balanced, comprehensive separation agreement that sets out each person’s rights and obligations.
A separation agreement can be negotiated in several ways, depending on the family dynamics. For some, it can start with informal discussions between separating spouses. An agreement can be negotiated in mediation, either with or without lawyers present. It may be negotiated using the Collaborative process. It may be done through a more “traditional” negotiation between parties with the help of their lawyers and this can involve meetings with all parties and lawyers as well as discussions between the lawyers and any other professionals who may be able to assist.
We know some things to be true about separation agreements, no matter what the process is for negotiation.
- Each party to the agreement must provide full and complete financial disclosure (this will include proof of income and assets at the relevant dates) so that the agreement is reliable. Separation agreements can be set aside for lack of disclosure or improper disclosure.
- Each party to the agreement must have independent legal advice to ensure that the agreement is reliable and, as with disclosure, to see that it’s not vulnerable to being set aside in the future.
While we have seen agreements that were negotiated and signed without those two important elements, we do not recommend it and it is not our practice to provide advice on agreements where disclosure is inadequate.