Tackling Your Own Separation Agreement, Really?
The online kits available to write your separation agreement look quite appealing. It’s quick and inexpensive. You can select whatever clauses catch your eye. Leave behind the small print and whatever seems overly complicated. Agree, print and sign.
Not so fast.
The headaches you’ll face by drafting such an important personal document on your own are significant. An expensive shock awaits you. For after years of believing you have in place a good deal, you will learn that it has very little value.
Having seen firsthand some client- crafted DIY agreements, the obvious pursuit was to quickly produce a short document with carefully selected parts meshed with familiar bits some for your spouse and some for you.
Here’s what can go wrong:
- The intended purpose of the agreement identified in the opening paragraphs doesn’t relate to the substantive provisions of the agreement.
- The important sections setting out the obligations of each spouse to the other are incomprehensible, partially described, or simply not included. What’s not included and should have been is still open for negotiation and is not resolved.
- Old terminology no longer in use is sprinkled throughout the document or legal terminology is incorrectly or inappropriately used.
- Factual information is not accurately relayed so the substantive provisions don’t make sense so no action can be taken.
Before You Sign
- Meet with your family law lawyer and learn how your wishes and needs align with Ontario law. Understanding your rights and obligations is indisputably the first starting point.
- Understand the organization of the domestic contract and ensure that the provisions are consistent with each other. There shouldn’t be a timetable for the payment of spousal support at the front and a waiver of support at the back.
- Get a . You want to ensure what you intend to sign absolutely reflects your interests both short term and into the future.
- The value of having independent legal advice: simply indispensable.