5.7 Finalizing Separation Agreements


If you’re able to come to an agreement that’s wonderful, but be careful there are a few more things to do to finalize the agreement.  It’s important to take the time to carefully consider your agreement so you can avoid future disputes. 


Steps to finalize your agreement

1. Evaluate your agreement

    A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is this Agreement fair?
  • Is it in my best interests? Is it in my children's best interests?
  • Can I afford this Agreement -- now and in the foreseeable future?
  • Is there a clearly-stated method to collect or enforce commitments
  • What did I want that I didn't get? Can I live without it? Is it worth additional time and money to re-negotiate?
  • What am I willing to give up in order to get the missing items?
  • Am I rejecting this Agreement because important provisions are missing or very unfavorable to me, or because I'm mad at my spouse and want to make him or her suffer?
  • Will I be better or worse off if I go to court? Get advice on how a judge is likely to rule.
  • Is the financial and emotional toll of not settling too high for me and my children to pay?

2. Get Legal Advice

  • It is a good idea to see a lawyer before you sign the agreement, to make sure that you have protected your rights. A lawyer can go through the agreement and explain any defects or risks. You should see a different lawyer from the one your former spouse sees.

3. Sign and witness

  • After you have each seen a lawyer you will want to sign the agreement. The agreement is binding once it's signed. If the agreement is about property or spousal support, the signature should be witnessed by at least one other person who is an adult. The same person can witness both signatures.

4. File it

  • Once you have an agreement in place, it’s best to formalize it so that it can be enforced by the courts. If you are a common law spouse (unmarried) you will need to file with the court registry to formalize your agreement. Once it is registered, the court will treat your agreement as if it were a court order. If you are a married spouse you can file your separation agreement with your application for a divorce. This way it will become part of your divorce order. If you are not getting a divorce or have not applied for one yet, you should file your separation agreement with the court registry.  
  • The court can only enforce your agreement if it has been filed. You can file your separation agreement with the court anytime, however; it’s best to do it right away.
  • To file your agreement, take a copy of your signed agreement to the Provincial Court or Supreme Court registry and ask to have it filed.