Separation Agreements

DSG Family Law

When married or common-law couples separate in BC, a separation agreement can help clarify the way forward for both spouses without unnecessary disputes, delays, and expense.

With the right legal advice and support during the separation process, partners are better able to plan for a future independent of each other with greater certainty and confidence.

Separation Agreement Lawyers in Langley, BC

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What is a separation agreement in BC?

In British Columbia, separation agreements are legally binding documents usually prepared with the help of a family lawyer. They set out the rights and responsibilities of either married spouses or common-law couples during and after the separation process.

Without a signed separation agreement drafted according to BC law, the matter may end up in court with a judge needing to decide on the key end-of-relationship issues, such as child custody and parenting, property division, and spousal support.

Marriage separation agreements vs. common law separation agreements

In British Columbia, couples who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years have similar rights and responsibilities with property / debt division and support as married couples—under the Family Law Act.

These rights and responsibilities also apply to couples who have lived together for a shorter period than two years, but have a child together.

Separation agreements for common-law relationships and marriages are, therefore, usually very similar and address the same major end-of-relationship issues.

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The main reason why separating couples are generally recommended to work on a settlement agreement together is to avoid the matter ending up in court with judicial intervention. Litigation can create unnecessary expense, delays, and conflict between the spouses or common-law partners.
A properly drafted separation agreement can help divorcing couples expedite the process and get the necessary formalities completed quicker and with much less expense than a litigated case.

Because separation agreements are collaborative, they are also less adversarial, helping to avoid conflict and increasing the chance of a separated couple maintaining their relationship after they go their separate ways—even more important if there are children from the marriage.
Separation agreements also allow separating couples some control and flexibility over the outcomes rather than having to follow strict laws and the terms of court orders.

Couples that have voluntarily signed separation agreements are more likely to follow the terms they contain than court orders imposed upon them, which is seen as another benefit.

Finally, separation agreements can address estate matters so that if one of the partners dies, property or assets do not directly transfer to the other party by default if they do not divorce (unless that is the partner’s wish).

What are the benefits of separation agreements?

BC does not recognize “legal separation”. When couples separate, they can do so without engaging in any court processes or filing any paperwork.

However, the couple should note the date and details of separation. This is important when the ex-partners come to resolve issues like the division of assets/debts and support.

If there is no official document to confirm the date of separation, it is generally understood to be the date that one or both parties articulate their desire to terminate the relationship.

Does legal separation exist in British Columbia?

How do you file for separation in BC?

There is no such thing as “filing for separation” in BC. If a couple wants to part, they can file for divorce and attempt to resolve the key end-of-relationship issues through discussion, negotiation, mediation, arbitration or litigation.

If these matters can be successfully resolved, a written separation agreement will help formalize what has been agreed upon and make everything legally binding,

This separation agreement can then form the basis of the divorce case. Provided that everything accords with BC law, a judge can issue the divorce decree without delay.

The main three legal requirements for separation agreements under BC’s Family Law Act are:

  1. The agreement must be in writing
  2. The agreement must be signed by both spouses
  3. The signing of the agreement must be witnessed

These are the minimum “legal requirements” but they don’t guarantee a separation agreement that works well in practical terms and that will be approved by a judge. For that, you should also look to accomplish the following:

  • Obtain independent legal advice before signing the agreement (both spouses)
  • Ensure full and transparent financial disclosure (assets, income and property)
  • Show that the agreement was signed without coercion, duress, mistake or unconscionability.

What legal requirements must be met by separation agreements?

What’s included in separation agreements in BC?

There is no set legal template for separation agreements in BC and no restriction on the number of issues that they can address.

Generally speaking, separation agreements will cover at least the following:

  • The division of property from the relationship—with valuations, a method for fair division, confirmation of what will happen with the marital home (buyout/sale?), and how associated expenses will be paid.
  • The division of debt at the time of separation and any future debts that may arise.
  • Spousal support: whether one party is entitled to support and if so, how much and for how long?
  • Child custody (legal and physical), child support, and parenting time (if applicable)
  • How the process of filing for divorce will work—which partner lodges the paperwork and how the costs are met, including how future costs will be paid if disputes arise.
  • Estate issues — what happens if one of the spouses passes away? How does it affect inheritance rights?

With separation agreements covering such important matters, decisions can become complex and there is little margin for error.

Experienced and trusted legal assistance is essential during these times.

DSG Family Law offers a free initial consultation to assess your situation and outline your legal options. Speak with a divorce lawyer in Langley today.

At DSG Family Law in Langley, BC, we understand the far-reaching impact of family law matters like divorce and legal separation on parental rights, personal property, children, and assets. Our professional and highly skilled family lawyers are committed to providing you with expert representation, tailored to your unique needs.

We take a client-centred approach and offer both comprehensive and unbundled legal services, ensuring you receive the support you require at an affordable cost. As a paperless firm, we prioritise efficiency, making your experience with us seamless and stress-free.

Count on DSG Family Law for accessible, compassionate, and trusted family law representation in Langley, BC. Book a free consultation and let us guide you through these crucial legal matters with clear solutions to complex family matters.

Langley B.C

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At DSG Family Law, we understand that family law matters can be overwhelming and emotionally challenging. Our Family Law Consultations are designed to create a welcoming, comforting, and collaborative environment where you can discuss your concerns and aspirations freely.

We listen attentively to your unique story and provide a safe space to express your needs and goals openly. Our compassionate team of experienced lawyers is here to support and guide you every step of the way.

During the consultation, we take the time to understand your situation fully. We believe in fostering a collaborative approach, where you are actively involved in the decision-making process. Our goal is to empower you with knowledge and options, so you can make informed choices for the future of your family.

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