Separation Agreements and the Role They Play in Alberta divorces

Are you considering separating from your spouse? Here’s What You Should Know

Divorce can be a complicated process. In some instances, separating from your spouse is the best course of action to take.  If you have questions about separation agreements, keep reading to get aware of the key points.

If you have questions about separation, divorce, common-law relationship issues, the division of property, or family law, we encourage you to contact our law office today. Chahal Raj Law in Edmonton can help alleviate the legal burdens and give you some peace of mind during the divorce or separation process. Call us at (780) 447-2799 for in-depth legal advice about your unique situation.

A Guide To Separation Agreements

A separation agreement can be made between two married parties considering parting ways and dissolving their marriage. A legal separation may turn into divorce, mediation, or reconciliation. In many instances, separation is a good course of action for couples who have reached a turning point in their marriage and want to separate. It is also a good alternative for those not ready to jump straight into the divorce process. In most cases, married couples may draw up a legal separation agreement on their own to present to their divorce lawyers.

What is a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement is a legally drafted contract between two people who wish to end their marriage. A legal separation allows a married couple to live separately for a period of time before they reach a final divorce judgment. Legal agreements are used to set the terms of these separations.

Legally drafted separation agreements will most often involve some form of negotiation from each party involving property and parenting arrangements. Mediation and other dispute resolution mechanisms may also be used during the separation agreement process.

Reasons why you should have a Separation Agreement for your Divorce

Separation agreements help couples resolve issues including child custody, parenting arrangements, child support, division of property (real property and personal property), debt, and more.  Couples that can work together to create an agreed-upon separation agreement often save themselves time and money during the divorce process.

With a separation agreement, both parties have clear boundaries and expectations. This can be very important when parenting or financial responsibilities are still partially shared. These agreements also protect both individuals from one partner taking advantage of the situation.

About the One Year Separation Period

For most divorces, the separation period is one year.  However, there are no time limits for separation in Alberta.

The most important thing to know is that you must be separated from your spouse for at least one full year before you can file for divorce, but you can initiate the divorce with your spouse during the separation period.

How Do You Make Separation Agreements Legally Binding?

For an agreement concerning separation to be legally binding, it must be signed and dated by both parties in the presence of a witness. The most amicable way to legally create an agreement involves discussing the key terms of the divorce with your spouse in relation to child custody, spousal support, parenting time, and any other family law issues. If you can decide how these matters should be handled together, it will you and your spouse save time and money. With that being said, you should still hire a lawyer to draft or review any of these agreements so they are legally sound.

An experienced family lawyer will be able to advise you on matters such as an acceptable parenting plan that the Alberta courts will receive. They can also tell you which marital property division proposal options are fair to you.

Do You Need help with a Separation Agreement?

It is usually best to use an experienced family lawyer when drafting or signing any legal agreement. This helps to ensure that both parties are fairly represented. Since the decisions you reach during the separation can impact parenting after separation, a family law lawyer experienced in resolving family law issues can protect your rights and ensure a smoother process.

Separation Agreements for Common Law Relationships

For unmarried couples in Alberta who have lived together and separated after January 2020, you could have the same fundamental rights as a married couple as it relates to property division.

The Matrimonial Property Act was replaced in January 2020 with the Family Property Act.  If your “common-law” relationship qualifies as an Adult Interdependent Relationship, the same division of property rules apply to your relationship as it would if you were legally married, as long as your separation took place after January 1, 2020.

An adult interdependent relationship is determined by the following:

  • you and your partner have lived together as common-law partners for a minimum of three years
  • you and your partner lived together for less than three years but have a child together
  • you and your partner have entered into an Adult Interdependent Partner agreement together

If you and your partner qualify as an Adult Interdependent Relationship, the property in your relationship is divided exactly how you would divide property in a divorce.  Another important consideration for common-law partners is entering into a cohabitation agreement, similar to a prenuptial agreement for married couples.  This can simplify the division of property for you and your partner.

To clarify your situation, and determine whether you qualify for equitable division of property in your common-law partnership, contact our law office and schedule a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers.

Contact the Team at Chahal Raj Law in Edmonton for Assistance with Separation

Separation can be a complicated and stressful process. Whether you are separating from a marriage or have questions about divorce, we can assist you. Chahal Raj Law in Edmonton is here to help ensure that your separation or divorce process goes as smoothly as possible in court. We will work hard to help you ensure that your separation is cooperative and can pass through the courts without delays. Visit our Contact Us page or call (780) 447-2799 to learn more.

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