5.3 Separation Agreement


A separation agreement is a written document between you and your former spouse setting out how you have agreed on the key issues. It is basically a contract that sets out how you two are to behave. Separation agreements are made once the relationship has ended. You must both agree to it of your own free will. It is binding upon the both of you and can be enforced by the court if either of you fail to live up to it.

Law Guide:

Family Law Act:

Typically the issues dealt with in Separation Agreements are

  • Separating your property and debt
  • Parenting arrangements
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

If you can manage to settle some or all of these issues, you should consider making a separation agreement. These issues are a guideline but you can put whatever you want in your agreement. 

Both common-law and married couples can make separation agreements.

Benefits of separation agreements

Lawyer’s Tip:

You can come to a settlement agreement at any point in time, even if you have started court proceedings. 

  • You have control over the key issues
  • Typically done quicker than going to court
  • Can be a lot less expensive than court
  • They are enforceable by the court
  •  It’s easier to change than a court order. A court order requires a Judge to change it, while an agreement only needs the two of you to agree. 
  • Allows you to agree to a division of property that is different from the way the court would divide the property
  • Can be a more amicable and less stressful process than court


How to get to an agreement?

Last chapter you learned communication and negotiation skills. Using these skills will help you reach a separation agreement.  Remember to review Chapter 3 if you need a refresher.

Before sitting down to negotiate with your former spouse, take a moment to review the Separation Agreement Worksheet. Go through the questions and think about how you would respond. Take this worksheet with you when negotiating a settlement, as it can help guide the conversation and get you both to consider important questions about your separation.