If you search “Separation Agreement Alberta” you’ll see many articles from lawyers telling you how to start the process of getting a separation agreement. What these articles do not talk about is whether a separation agreement is even necessary.
Separation agreements aren’t mandatory. They can also get extremely expensive. At TDS, we can provide you with the documents you need, without the unnecessary expense of a separation agreement.
What you Should Know about Separation Agreements
A common reason clients ask for separation agreements is because their bank has asked for one. They want to transfer the title of their home from both parties to the spouse who will be keeping the home after the divorce, and their bank says it requires a separation agreement for this to proceed. However, there is a much less expensive legal document that will satisfy your bank, which TDS provides.
A legal separation agreement in Alberta is a written document drafted after a married couple separates. A typical separation agreement includes clauses pertaining to the particulars of the parties and their children, spousal support, the division of the matrimonial assets, parties’ personal assets and liabilities, custody, parenting, child support, and financial disclosure. It is, in essence, an all-encompassing document that covers the agreements made by both parties.
It is important for most separated couples to have a document in place to include all those aspects of the separation, but it does not have to be a separation agreement. TDS provides an alternate court document that covers all these items, but does not include a lengthy process nor the signature of lawyers.
A key aspect of a separation agreement in Alberta is that in order to be legal, each spouse must be represented by their own independent lawyer. The final agreement is signed and endorsed by both lawyers. Lawyers will typically treat all families the same, so whether you are dealing with million-dollar properties, or a rented house and one car loan, you are put through the same motions.
This can cause major delays before an agreement is finalized. At TDS we have seen a number of cases where the drafting of a separation agreement has actually caused more conflict than it has solved.
- A separation agreement is not proof that you have been separated from your spouse the required one year before filing for divorce in Alberta.
- A separation agreement does not initiate the Alberta divorce proceedings. That document is the Statement of Claim for Divorce.
- A separation agreement is not mandatory to file for Divorce in Alberta.
When parties are struggling to agree and move forward with their divorce, the best course of action is to meet with a mediator who can help them sort through some of their issues.
When the mediation sessions are finalized, the mediator will typically draft a mediation report, also called a Memorandum of Understanding or a Mediated Agreement. This document will only include the topics that have been agreed to and not necessarily everything that is typically covered in a separation agreement.
At TDS, we can help you turn this into a legal document by drafting a consent matrimonial property order, which is a court document.
Things Can Go Wrong with Separation Agreements
Many people like having a separation agreement in place, as it represents a tangible proof of what’s been agreed upon. It is also useful as proof when conducting post-separation transactions with Canada Revenue Agency, your employer, as well as the bank.
However, things go wrong with separation agreements for many reasons.
Sometimes parties do not provide full and complete disclosure. Other times couples get stuck on some of the issues. That’s when a peaceful agreement can turn into a long paper trail that turns into an overwhelming and long-lasting ordeal, before divorce proceedings even begin. Again, this gets expensive.
If your bank, or another agency has told you they require a separation agreement to advance your file, TDS can help. There are other legal documents that can satisfy their requirements that do not require hiring two lawyers. Our team of divorce filing experts can help you draft the right document for your needs.