The Separation Agreement
Separating couples need to reach and sign an agreement, called a Separation Agreement, which untangles the various aspects of their matrimonial or common-law relationship. These aspects include parenting arrangements, child and spousal support, financial interdependence, equalization of property, and responsibility for debts.
A properly negotiated, drafted and signed Separation Agreement will go as far as is legally possible to provide a resolution of the rights and obligations of each party arising from separation.
The Importance of the Choice of Process
The sorting out of legal rights and entitlements arising from separation is usually made more difficult by the emotional aspects of separation, the involvement of new partners, and the feelings of other persons involved, including children and extended family members.
In order to move forward with their lives, individuals need a process for final determination of these issues; but choosing the right process can be difficult. Individuals caught in this situation are often in a state of turmoil and vulnerable to poor advice. Such advice may come from many quarters including family, friends, new partners, fellow workers, and the Internet.
Some people take a “do-it-yourself” approach to separation and avoid professional help altogether. In that case, even if an agreement is reached, it may be incomplete or otherwise lack the essential ingredients of a binding contract. In the event of further dispute, the agreement may be unenforceable or even set aside by the Court.
At the other end of the process spectrum is litigation. While there are definitely cases that will require the Court’s assistance for final resolution, for most couples the choice of litigation will generally result in the highest level of conflict and emotional and financial impact.
Between the choices of “do-it-yourself” and litigation, there are various processes for reaching agreement by negotiation. One of these processes is family mediation.