A separation agreement is a document that outlines the responsibilities and roles of each person during a separation. It might prevent arguments in the future.
Although a separation agreement is not mandatory in Canada, it can be beneficial if you or your spouse decide to end your marriage. You can save a lot of time and money in the future by agreeing to parent arrangements, asset division, and other aspects of an impending separation or divorce.
What Happens if You Cannot Agree on a Separation Agreement?
Multiple options are available if you and your spouse struggle to decide on the terms of your separation agreement. If you can find a way to put your differences aside and work together, a judge or court will not have to get involved. Bringing your case to court means you have little control over the outcome.
You should consider mediation or counselling if you encounter problems while discussing the terms of a separation agreement. Either method allows an unbiased third party to facilitate constructive conversations between you and your spouse and offer solutions to resolve your conflicts. Ironing out the essential details now can prevent future disputes and unnecessary courtroom battles.
A counsellor can meet with you separately and together to hear about your issues. They might get to the root of the problem and suggest how to proceed with an appropriate arrangement.
Since separating can be stressful, sad, and overwhelming, a counsellor might help you cope with your feelings and negotiate terms of an agreement without your emotions interfering with your decisions.
You and your spouse can meet with a mediator during mediation to discuss the situation and negotiate the terms of a mutually agreeable separation agreement. The mediator will hear both sides and advise how you might overcome the obstacles to finalize the agreement.
Mediators are not allowed to enter official judgments or make decisions for the parties. Their job is to relay information between each person and offer advice on negotiating the terms. A mediator cannot and will not make a decision for the parties.
If the primary issue is your spouse’s resistance to creating a separation agreement, it might take more than mediation or counselling to participate in the process. Sometimes, people are unwilling to discuss a separation agreement when the wounds are fresh. They might not be ready to accept the marriage is over or discuss complex topics, such as spousal support or property division.
Pursuing legal action is not ideal. It is costly, time-consuming, and might create more problems with your spouse. You can try to communicate the importance of a separation agreement to avoid having to involve a judge who will decide the details of your case for you. However, if they still refuse, the only option is to hire a lawyer and take your case to court.
What Happens if Spouse Does Not Sign Separation Agreement?
You should not threaten or force your spouse into signing a separation agreement. The document will not be valid or enforceable if your spouse does not sign it willingly. You should seek legal representation immediately if your spouse refuses to sign even after negotiating all the terms.
Your lawyer can send a notice to your spouse to try to get them to participate in negotiations. They can help you determine how to settle the matter if your spouse does not sign for a specific reason.
If your spouse rejects the idea of a separation agreement, a third party can decide on the case. An arbitrator can meet with you and your spouse to review the circumstances and make a decision. Unlike a mediator, an arbitrator can legally decide on the terms. Neither of you will get much of a say in the outcome.
After you have exhausted these options and still have no success, you and your lawyer can litigate the matter. Your lawyer can send a demand letter to the spouse. The letter should include a timeframe for your spouse to respond. If they do not respond timely, you can escalate the matter to court.
Your lawyer can file the appropriate document to request a judge to handle the matter. The judge will decide and enter an official order requiring you and your spouse to abide by the agreement.
Contact an Experienced Family Lawyer Today
GDH Family Law, LLP, represents clients in Canada during the most difficult times in their lives. We devote our time and resources to protecting our client’s rights and meeting their needs.
Negotiating a separation agreement is often challenging. However, an experienced family lawyer from GDH Family Law, LLP, can help you during negotiations or while litigating your case in court.
Learn more about the available options if your spouse is delaying a separation agreement by calling us at (416) 535-6944 for your free consultation.