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In today’s blog, paralegal Carly Crawford explains the basics of BC Separation Agreements. If you are about to, or have separated, you are probably wondering whether you need a BC separation agreement.  We understand that BC separation agreements may seem intimidating and even a little daunting. That is why at MacLean Law, we have top family lawyers to help you understand the BC separation agreement process from beginning to end. Our MacLean Law family lawyers have handled family law settlements for nearly 40 years. Courts have commented on our skilled approach in this area.

Vancouver Separation Agreement Lawyers 1 877 602 9900

In the key BC family law case of Bayne, we negotiated a fair, final BC separation agreement for our client. She received the family home, which shot up dramatically in value after the agreement was reached. Her ex-husband later tried to unsuccessfully set aside the agreement we made as unfair. The Court complimented our legal advice and negotiation skills for our client and also provided a summary of basics of BC Separation Agreements:

[31]         If that is so, then surely that is what lawyers are expected to do: attempt to resolve things in a manner as favourable to their clients’ interests as possible.  Not only was it open to Mr. Bayne to obtain legal advice about this change, but he expressly stated that he was going to do so.  Mr. MacLean can hardly be faulted for the fact that he did not.  But in the circumstances of this case, I do not think the proposed change in format matters very much.

[39]         The question is not whether a better result could have been negotiated for Mr. Bayne had he been represented by counsel as able as Ms. Nordlinger.  The question is whether the result that Mr. Bayne negotiated is unfair.  Taking into account the significant disparity in income between the parties, the claimant’s abandonment of any claim for past or future spousal support, and the claimant’s abandonment of any claim on Mr. Bayne’s RSP or pensions, I am unable to say that the division of property to which they agreed was in any way unfair.  The result, in my view, complies with the objectives of both the Family Relations Act and the Divorce Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. 3 (2nd Supp.).

[40]         The law favours finality.  These parties separated in April of 2003.  They came to an agreement on the terms of their separation on December 30, 2009.  It cannot be said that those terms are unfair.  It is time for them to move on.

The key point is that: when negotiating a fair separation agreement parties should make sure they are prepared to fully and finally settle all matters in a way that both can agree on and expect to be bound by. Unfair agreements where there is a failure to disclose or where someone takes unfair advantage may not hold up but parties cannot expect to get out of a fairly reached Vancouver separation agreement.

Contact our award winning BC separation agreements lawyers early on to help ensure a fair result

Vancouver Basics Of BC Separation Agreements 1 877 602 9900

In the simplest terms, a separation agreement is a legal contract between two individuals. It is a written contract that states how the parties have chosen to settle their financial and child parenting issues related to the separation. You may be asking yourself, what types of “issues” are usually involved? So, here are a few that may be included within the separation agreement: 

  1. establishing parenting arrangements and decision making roles; 
  2. dividing family property/assets;
  3. calculating the value of excluding pre-relationship, gifts and inheritance
  4. dividing family debts; 
  5. spousal support entitlement, amount and duration of payments; and
  6. child support payments.
  7. for higher net worth cases, tax planning costs.

At MacLean Law, we understand that many people feel confused about how to negotiate a separation agreement. Below, Carly Crawford sets out basics of BC Separation Agreements. The first step in negotiating a fair separation agreement is hiring a skilled family lawyer who understands:

  •  your priorities for the settlement and how to obtain financial disclosure and who will create a winning strategy;
  •  when children are involved how to keep both parties child focused;
  •  how to expertly settle cases just like yours because they have a proven track record of successfully regarding the duty to make and receive full financial disclosure

Our skilled MacLean Law  lawyers know that the goal of fair BC separation agreements is to avoid increased legal fees and the stress and tension between the parties. A fairly negotiated BC separation agreement drafted upon relationship breakdown, requires the parties to make decisions with a clear mind, free from undue influence or predatory behaviour, to ideally save the separated spouses time and money.

Surrey Basics of BC Separation Agreements 1 877 602 9900.

Based on the information above, you may have a few other questions that need to be answered, below are some of the most common questions involving the basics of BC Separation Agreements:

   1. Can we write the separation agreement without a lawyer? 

Yes, but we encourage couples to hire a lawyer to prepare the separation agreement. Proper separation agreements require full disclosure, fair negotiations with undue influence and independent legal advice to be valid. Homemade agreements are often not worth the paper they are printed on. The lawyer will advise you of the law and help you from signing an agreement that may be unfair. Your lawyer is your legal advocate and will draft a separation agreement that accurately reflects the terms you and your partner have agreed upon. The separation agreement will also likely include clauses referring to the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act, so it is important that a family lawyer is involved to protect your legal rights. 

   2. Can my partner and I have the same lawyer? 

You are not able to share the same lawyer. However, you can keep legal fees down by hiring one lawyer to draft the separation agreement, and the other party can receive independent legal advice from a different lawyer, not connected to MacLean Law. 

  3. What kind of documents may be required to prepare a separation agreement? 

It is important that both parties have their financials organized, the lawyer will ask to be provided the following documents:

  1. T1 Income Tax Returns;
  2. Most recent paystubs;
  3. Documents related to any owned properties (E.g. Mortgage Agreement);
  4. Documents related to pensions, retirement savings, life insurance policies, etc.;
  5. Documents related to debts (E.g. credit cards, lines of credit, education debts);
  6. Company, Trust and Professional practice financialsT2 Corporation Income Tax Returns; and 
  7. T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Returns. 
  8. Bank and investment account statements.
  9. professional real estate, trust and business valuations.

These above-listed financial documents will provide the lawyer an understanding of the parties’ financial circumstances and obligations. 

   4. Does the separation agreement need to be filed in Court to be binding?

No, you do not need to file your fully executed separation agreement in court. You may file the separation agreement in the Provincial Court of British Columbia or the Supreme Court of British Columbia depending on the issues written within, but it is not required. The separation agreement becomes a binding contract once both parties have signed the agreement, which is why we encourage both parties to hire a lawyer. Unfair separation agreements can be varied or set aside on common law grounds or if “unfair” or “significantly unfair” depending on whether it was signed before or after March 2013.

If you and your partner are considering a separation agreement, it is our responsibility to help you understand your legal rights and obligations. A separation agreement is created to make your future easier. None of us can predict what the future might hold for us, but at MacLean Law it is our duty to put our clients and their children first and to protect your legal rights. 

If you have more questions about separation agreements or any other questions, contact us toll free across Canada 1 877 602 9900 to meet with us in any of our offices. Our top family lawyers are available to resolve your matters.