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"What is a separation agreement?"
Ontario Divorce Laws - Procedure
A separation agreement is a contract between two former spouses that sets out each party's rights on issues such as custody of and access to the children, division of property, child support and spousal support. It has the force of a court order. A separation agreement is an important document and will affect you for years to come, so it is important that it be properly drafted by a good family lawyer.
"What is the typical process?"
Normally, your family lawyer will write to your spouse or your spouse's lawyer, stating that you would like to negotiate an amicable separation agreement. Financial information would be exchanged between you and your spouse to ensure that each party is aware of the other's finances. Then a separation agreement would be negotiated that is satisfactory to both parties.
"Do I have to go to court?"
If you and your spouse are able to agree on a separation agreement, then there is no need to go to court. You only need to go to court if there are issues that cannot be resolved any other way. This is similar to divorce and family law in the UK.
"How do I start court proceedings?"
You start a divorce by filing an "Application" with the court and then serving the Application on your spouse. The Application sets forth, in general terms, your position on issues such as child custody, access, child support and spousal support, and equalisation of assets.
As well, if financial issues are involved, you must also file and serve a Financial Statement on your spouse. The Financial Statement outlines your income and expenses, assets and liabilities.
Your family lawyer will gather from you the information necessary to include in these legal documents. He will prepare these documents for you and ensure that you make all the claims to which you are entitled. Your family lawyer will arrange to have the documents filed with the court and served on your spouse.
"I have been served with an Application. What do I do?"
You must act quickly! You have only 30 days in which to act. During this time, you must prepare an "Answer," serve the Answer on your spouse and file the Answer with the court. An Answer is a document responding to the claims in the Application, and making claims of your own. As well, if financial issues are involved in your case, you must also prepare, serve and file a Financial Statement.
The amount of information required in these legal documents can be time consuming to put together, so do not procrastinate. If you do not respond in time, a judgment may be entered against you. Once that has happened, you may find that you no longer can spend time with your children or that support payments are garnished from your pay cheque. Once this has happened, it will be very expensive and difficult to change the situation. A family lawyer can prepare an appropriate response to make sure that your rights are protected.
HOW WE CAN HELP YOUComplex Separation Agreement
Behrendt Law Chambers represented a client in negotiating a settlement agreement that involved the issues of child custody and access, child and spousal support, and the division of property. Through aggressive settlement negotiations, we managed to ensure that our client obtained joint custody of his daughter, all of the access to her that he wanted, plus We minimised the support payments and equalization payment he had to make.
Successful Court Appearance
Although negotiation is normally preferable, it is not always possible. Behrendt Law Chambers is no stranger to the courtroom, having appeared at many motions, case conferences, settlement conferences, and trials.