In family law, there are two broad categories of agreements, including:
- Agreements made during the relationship used to resolve legal issues following potential breakdown (Prenuptial & Cohabitation Agreements)
- Agreements made after relationship breakdown (Separation Agreements)
These agreements operate as legally binding contracts which will detail the conditions by which you and your spouse agree to separate, which may include a determination of:
After a relationship ends, parties can use Separation Agreements to resolve any outstanding issues between them whether they are married or in a common-law relationship. Separation Agreements will determine the rights and obligations of each spouse following the separation and will help facilitate a divorce, if necessary.
Prenuptial & Cohabitation Agreements
A Prenuptial Agreement is for couples who intend to get married and want to determine the rights and obligations that will govern if that relationship were to end. It allows the parties to settle in advance any legal issues that would arise in the event of a marriage breakdown. A Cohabitation Agreement is for couples who choose to live together but have chosen not to marry but want to pre-determine the same issues. Prenuptial Agreements and Cohabitation Agreements will assist parties in ensuring that they avoid any fights, in the event a relationship ends, as the terms will be certain.
Why Use a Separation, Prenuptial or Cohabitation Agreement?
A family law agreement is a legally binding contract and a cost-effective alternative to having to fight lengthy battles in Court. Furthermore, negotiating a family law agreement with your spouse or partner will give you more control over resolving issues that would arise following a relationship breakdown instead of having a judge decide what’s best.
Valid Agreements and Independent Legal Advice (Ila)
For a family law agreement to be legally binding, there are certain legal requirements, and this is where lawyers come in. In some situations, where property division or spousal support is involved, a family lawyer needs to be engaged in providing Independent Legal Advice (“ILA”). For some agreements, without an ILA, an agreement may be invalidated and non-effective. In most cases, a Separation Agreement is drafted by a lawyer for one party, while the other party obtains ILA.
Get social and stay up to date with our community involvement:
How does separation agreements work?
If parties enter into a Separation Agreement, then they are resolving the outstanding issues between them through a binding contract. A Separation Agreement can address matters such as property division, parenting and custody, child support, and spousal support. Essentially, the parties negotiate the terms of their agreement and they are put into a legal document that can be enforced in Court if necessary.
Why do I need a separation agreement?
While a Separation Agreement is not mandatory, negotiating this contract gives parties following a relationship breakdown more control over any outstanding issues that exist. It allows people to consider their positions and decide on terms that will govern their affairs after a breakup instead of leaving it up to a Judge.
Can you write up your own separation agreement?
While someone can write their own separation agreement, there are several formalities that are required to make an agreement legally binding. For examples, if parties are dealing with matrimonial property or spousal support, they need to comply with existing legislation. Having a lawyer negotiate and draft a Separation Agreement will make it less likely that the contract will be declared unenforceable (meaning that it has no effect). Also, lawyers can ensure that all outstanding issues are addressed.
Is a cohabitation agreement the same as a prenup?
While a Prenuptial Agreement (“prenup”) and Cohabitation Agreement deals with similar issues, the wording of the Agreement will depend on the stage and type of relationship between the parties. A Prenuptial Agreement is for couples who are looking to enter into a marriage while a Cohabitation Agreement is for couples who are choosing to live together but are choosing not to marry. Either way, both will determine the rights and obligations of the parties if their relationship were to end.