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What is a separation agreement?

It is not uncommon for couples in Alberta to choose to separate rather than follow the path of traditional divorce. While the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference, a couple can choose separation for financial, medical, religious or other reasons. When separation becomes a reality, however, it is important to draft a written agreement designed to eliminate future disputes – the separation agreement.

The separation agreement is a written agreement between two spouses who are either planning to separate or have recently separated. The document serves one main purpose – to ensure both parties are in agreement on numerous separate topics. These topics can include:

  • Who will live in the matrimonial home?
  • How will property be divided?
  • Who will take responsibility for various family debts?
  • Who will be responsible for making child and spousal support payments?
  • Who will have custody of the children?
  • How will the other party’s parenting time be scheduled?

The separation agreement exists to resolve numerous arguments before they happen. From the division of assets and debts to the creation of a parenting schedule, a separating couple can sit down and work through negotiations designed to foster a comprehensive document.

While many couples choose to make verbal agreements rather than write a separation agreement, it is wise to formalize your decisions. Reaching a verbal agreement might save time, however, topics discussed can ultimately become a he-said-she-said disagreement months or even years in the future. With a formal separation agreement in place, expectations have clearly been set regarding custody, support and many other familial topics. It is wise to work with an experienced family law lawyer who can provide the guidance and representation you need through the entire separation process.

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