If you’re feeling uncertain about the future now that you and your spouse have separated, then you are not alone. Many separated spouses are not sure of how to proceed in terms of ending the marriage fairly and equitably. You’re not only dealing with emotional stress; you also have legal concerns, which may include matters of property division, child care, spousal support and moving house.
In Ontario, from the time of separation, you generally have to wait one year for the court to finalize the divorce. This time of waiting can be immensely stressful for spouses, especially if you don’t have a separation agreement.
It is not necessary to go to court to get a good separation agreement in writing, but these contracts should be very formal in order to be effective now and in the future. If not well negotiated and drafted, a separation agreement could be set aside, so it is crucial to seek counsel from an experienced lawyer before signing such a contract.
Additionally, for a separation agreement to be legal, you and your spouse must sign it in the presence of a witness, who must also sign the document. Spouses should also receive independent legal advice before signing a separation agreement.
Though doing so is not required, you have the option of filing a copy of your agreement with the court. This must be done if you intend for support payments to be collected on your behalf by the Family Responsibility Office.
MatrimonialHome.com has more information if you have questions about separation agreements or any aspect of family law in Ontario.