Today I will be addressing the option of a Separation Agreement for separating couples who were never married.
Couples who never married but have lived together for some time or have lived together and have a child together may be in a “common law” relationship.
Just like when married couples separate, common law couples often need to deal with issues such as major decision making for the children, parenting arrangements, child and spousal support, and other financial matters as a result of their separation.
Common law couples have a variety of options to resolve these issues such as negotiations (either privately or with the assistance of counsel) or alternative dispute resolution options such as the collaborative family law process, Mediation, Arbitration, and/or Mediation/Arbitration. The final option is litigation through the family law Courts.
If the parties are unable to resolve the outstanding issues through negotiations or alternative dispute resolution, then they can seek the assistance of the Courts. At the end of the Court process, a judge makes a final Order based on the facts and law which determines the parties’ rights, entitlements, and obligations. Court should usually be the last option to resolve separation-related issues. A private settlement on mutually agreeable terms that is tailored to your family’s particular needs and circumstances is always preferable.
If the parties are able to settle the issues on a final basis outside of the Court process, then they will enter into a domestic contract called a Separation Agreement. The Separation Agreement will set out the specific terms of the resolution between the parties and their respective rights, entitlements, and obligations on all parenting, support, and financial issues upon separation and going forward. When the parties reach a resolution, a draft Separation Agreement is prepared for the parties to review to ensure that all the terms are mutually agreeable. Once the parties approve the draft Agreement, the parties will finalize the contract by signing it.
Separation Agreements are not just limited to married couples. Whether or not you and your partner were married, if you were living in common law, your matter can be resolved by way of a Separation Agreement without having to go to Court.
If you would like more information on separation agreements for common law or married couples, please visit our website at www.separation.ca. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to speak with one of our lawyers about your family law matter, please call us at 905-581-7222.
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