Couples sometimes reach separation agreements when they decide to legally separate from each other. They can be used to make a separation more amicable and avoid going to court. Reaching a separation agreement is also a useful way of making a couple's decisions official. In Ontario, and all of Canada, couples do not need to file for a legal separation, but they must be separated for one year before filing for divorce.
You are not required in Ontario to have a separation agreement. A separation agreement is an option for people who are able to come to agreement on the terms of their separation without going to the court to have a judge decide. Separation agreements need to be signed in front of a witness. You do not need a lawyer to draft an agreement for you but it simplifies the process. The separation agreement is a binding contract that both parties must honor.
The separation agreement must be filed with the Ontario Court of Justice or the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice. It should also be forwarded to the Family Responsibility Office who will help you if your spouse breaks the agreement.
In Ontario, your separation is legal as soon as you and your spouse are living separately with the intent to remain separate. However, it is possible to continue to live in the same dwelling as your spouse if it is more economical or if you feel it is better for the children. The court will need to see evidence that you are separated. This might be demonstrated by living in separate rooms, having separate bank accounts or letting your friends and family know that you are separated. You must be separated for one year before you can file for divorce but you are allowed to attempt reconciliation during that period without it affecting your separation agreement or divorce proceedings. You must not live together while attempting reconciliation for more than 90 days in the one-year period.
Agreement Provision Requirements
Your separation agreement can contain almost anything that is relevant to your specific relationship. It can have custody decisions, spousal support agreements, decisions on how property will be divided and the divisions of any savings, investments and debt. The date is an important part of the agreement since it is an official time-stamp for when you and your spouse started the process.