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The Divorce Act contemplates that divorcing (and/or separated) parties may reconcile. It thereby allows and encourages parties to resume cohabitation, with reconciliation as their primary purpose, and engage in normal marital relations for a period of up to (but not exceeding) 90 days.

Regardless of whether you are attempting to reconcile or not, it is unwise to make unrealistic or grandiose promises to your former spouse. Offers like “she can have everything” may ease your guilt or otherwise prove your love/goodwill, but such promises often manifest into overly generous settlements or agreements that are rarely kept or enforced.

Whether you are motivated by feelings of love or guilt, trying to improve your image in the eyes of your former spouse, or trying to move on quickly, making unrealistic promises can result in false bargaining, and should thus be avoided. Falsely bargained agreements or settlements are not long-lasting and can be a waste of money; they can also result in a lot of frustration and stress (for example: the spouse who has been told “you can keep the house” will be extremely disappointed when the agreement has to then be abandoned because it was unrealistic, or when the agreement is later deemed unenforceable by a court).

Courts have the discretion to set aside an agreement for fraud, duress, undue influence, unconscionable transaction, misrepresentation, mistake, or any other common law defect. It is therefore advisable that parties avoid making unrealistic and unenforceable promises.

In order to protect your best interests and ensure that you adequately understand your rights, obligations and entitlements, it is advisable that you obtain legal advice prior to making any promises and/or resolving your matrimonial issues on your own. Lawyers with experience in family law matters have specific knowledge and skills, and can help you work through your family law matters effectively and efficiently. They are best equipped to ensure that any settlement reached is one that is legally valid, enforceable and in your best interests. Consulting with a family law lawyer will almost always lead to a quicker and more beneficial settlement.