Understanding Separation Agreement
A Separation Agreement is a contract that deals with all relevant issues associated with a divorce or relationship breakdown. Our separation agreement lawyers review your unique situation and explain your legal rights and obligations. They also help negotiate all of the terms of a separation agreement. The final cost of getting a divorce by agreement is usually much lower than when there are court disputes. Do you want help with negotiating or preparing a separation agreement? Keep reading or contact our Edmonton, Alberta Lawyers by emailing [email protected] or calling us at (780) 571-8463.
Legal Issues Covered By Settlement Agreements
There are 4 main issues that separation agreement lawyers must deal with (or 2 if there are not children of the relationship). For example, these issues include:
Decision-making Power (Custody) And Parenting Time (Access)
Decision-making power (sometimes called “custody”) is normally shared by the parents. This means that they make all “big” decisions together. This includes things like where the child goes to school, where they live, and other decisions such as religious and cultural upbringing.
Parenting time (sometimes called “access”) deals with who the child spends time with. Parenting schedules vary greatly, depending on the circumstances of the parents. The only factor to consider in deciding on the parenting plan is the best interests of the child. The law says that a child should spend the most time possible with each parent as far as that is consistent with the child’s best interests.
The parents have great flexibility in deciding on a parenting plan. Whatever the plan is that you agree on, it should be included in the separation agreement.
Child support is the right of the child. The Federal and Alberta Child Support Guidelines sets out the amount to pay, depending on the payor’s income. Most of the time the amount set out in the Guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support.
A child has the right to the financial support of both parents. Normally, if the child lives with one parent more than 60% of the time, the other parent is the “payor” and must pay child support. If the child lives with one parent 40% of the time or higher, each parent would be responsible to pay the other parent child support. In that case, normally the parents agree to a “set-off” and the parent with the higher income pays the difference to the lower-income parent.
To learn more from our separation agreements lawyers about child support and decision-making power, click here.
Spouse support or spousal support is often a controversial issue. Whether or not the parties agree to spousal support, this portion of the agreement must be drafted carefully. If it is not, the agreement may be vulnerable to being overruled by the court.
When deciding on whether spousal support is appropriate, the court uses a 2 stage analysis. The first stage looks at whether or not an entitlement exists. If one party does have an entitlement to support, the next stage deals with how much and for how long the payor spouse should pay. Often, this issue is the most difficult for separation agreement lawyers to navigate with their clients.
To learn more about spousal support, click here.
Dividing the property of the relationship can be a very contentious issue. A separation agreement lawyer can help resolve that conflict. There are 4 stages to dividing family property:
Make an Inventory: Make an inventory of all of the major assets of the relationship. This should include things like vehicles, real estate, and investments. It should not include things like household goods, appliances, or furniture.
Assign Value: In addition to listing items, decide how much each item is worth. If you cannot agree on a value it can be very helpful to get a 3rd party valuation or appraisal.
Decide Who Gets What: Make a column for each of you and assign each item to one of the columns. Do not get caught up on whether or not one person is taking more than the other at this stage. Ask your separation agreement lawyers for a template to help organize your thoughts.
Determine the Equalization Payment: Lastly, add up the amount in each column. Normally one person will have more value than the other. If you want an equal division, the person talking the majority of the value pays an equalization payment to the other. This ensures that each party extracts the exact same amount of value from the property of the relationship, regardless of who takes what.
You have a lot of freedom when it comes to dividing the property of the relationship. You can choose to agree to an unequal division where one party takes more than the other. However, in order for such an agreement to be legally binding each party must receive independent legal advice, and the agreement must contain some specific wording. Your separation agreement lawyer can help with this.
It is important to note that some property is “exempt”. this means it should not be included as part of the matrimonial property. For example, this includes things such as inheritances, insurance proceeds, gifts, and the proceeds from civil litigation. If this may apply to your situation you should talk to a lawyer.
Importance Of Involving Separation Agreement Lawyers
As you can see, there are many considerations that go into a separation agreement. It is an important legal document. In some cases, if you do not get legal advice it will not be legally binding. You could very well end up spending any money you “saved” on preparing it yourself (or paying a non-lawyer to prepare it) on trying to defend the agreement in court. That defeats the purpose of having a separation agreement in the first place.
Edmonton Separation Agreement Lawyers
At Kahane Law Office we pride ourselves in providing outstanding service to our clients at affordable rates. To learn more or to book an appointment with an Edmonton lawyer who gets it, email us at [email protected], book an initial consultation by using our online tool here, or call us at (780) 571-8463.