When married or common-law spouses separate, it is open to them to enter into a BC separation agreement that settles issues arising from the end of their relationship. A separation agreement in BC is a legal contract that can address many subjects, and if done properly, can settle all matters without needing to go to court. This article will review some of the basics of BC separation agreements: what issues they can cover, what is required to make a valid BC separation agreement, and why it is a good idea to have an experienced family lawyer on your side when preparing a separation agreement in BC. Separation Agreements BC: What Issues Can the Agreement Cover? A properly prepared BC separation agreement can settle any issues that arise at the end of a relationship, including: • Child custody and schedules for access to children; • Parenting responsibilities; • Child support and extraordinary expenses; • Spousal support; • Property division; • Division of debt incurred during the relationship; and • Ownership of pets. Because the list of what a separation agreement in BC can cover is so wide-ranging, it is important to know your rights and responsibilities as a spouse and as a parent before signing anything. Separation Agreements BC: What is Required to Make it Official? There are several requirements to make an “official” separation agreement in BC, including that a BC separation agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties in the presence of a witness. The agreement must clearly identify the parties and the nature of their rights and obligations, and neither party should be under a legal disability when the agreement is signed (though there are a few exceptions, such as where a minor is a parent). In addition to all of the formal requirements, there are several other considerations that must be met to ensure a BC separation agreement is valid and enforceable. For example, a BC separation agreement must be based on full and proper financial disclosure between the parties. In addition, a separation agreement in BC cannot obligate a party to do something that is against the law, and the parties cannot agree to contract out of certain statutory obligations such as the obligation to pay child support. Why Should I Have a Lawyer’s Help When Making a BC Separation Agreement? People can prepare their own separation agreement in BC, but many who do struggle with the complexities of the law and find it very challenging to communicate directly with their ex-spouse. In some cases, people who prepare their own agreement later discover that what they agreed to does not work “in real life”. And in the worst cases, people who negotiate their own agreement are faced with a challenge and must go to court to defend the agreement. A family law lawyer will help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities before you make your agreement final. Your lawyer will act on your behalf, reducing or eliminating the potential for difficulties in communicating directly with your spouse. This can be of vital importance to ensuring fair negotiations, particularly if there was manipulation or abuse of any kind in the relationship. In addition, a family lawyer can ensure that all issues are addressed in the agreement, that proper financial disclosure has been made, and that your attention has been drawn to potential issues that could arise in implementing the agreement (in other words, your lawyer has the experience and foresight to make sure that the agreement will be workable). Separation Agreements BC: Who Can Help? The experienced family lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP can help protect your legal rights and ensure that your BC separation agreement is tailored to fit your family’s needs. A well-drafted separation agreement can settle all matters without needing to go to court. This will save you time and money, and perhaps most importantly, will allow you to maintain control over important decisions that impact you and your family. Contact us today at 1-855-852-5100.
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