Separating from a spouse or partner can be emotionally taxing, and legal terminology and requirements can be confusing and overwhelming. The outcome of the myriad decisions and negotiations you must make following this life-altering event can be a well-drafted separation agreement, providing clarity and structure that aims to reduce potential future conflicts. However, the road to a successful separation agreement is fraught with common pitfalls. Knowing these will help you confidently navigate creating a separation agreement in Calgary.
Understanding a Separation Agreement 101
Before we delve into the common mistakes, let’s clarify what a separation agreement entails. A separation agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the rights, responsibilities, and arrangements of separating or divorcing spouses. It addresses key issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and visitation rights. A separation agreement can clarify, prevent disputes, and expedite the separation process.
10 Common Mistakes When Drafting
#1: Incomplete Disclosure
One of the most significant mistakes separation agreement lawyers have encountered is failing to receive full financial disclosure from their clients. Both parties must fully disclose their assets, debts, income, and expenses. Incomplete or dishonest disclosure can lead to a lop-sided agreement where one party may not receive their full entitlements simply because they did not know of income levels or the extent of assets that would be subject to division.
#2: Ignoring Child Custody & Support
A common mistake that a child custody lawyer in Calgary and a child support lawyer in Calgary encounter is rushing through or overlooking arrangements for children. It’s crucial to establish a clear parenting plan, visitation schedule, and support payments that prioritize the children’s best interests.
#3: Verbal Agreements
Relying on verbal agreements rather than documenting everything in writing is risky. Verbal agreements are difficult to enforce and can lead to misunderstandings. Always formalize agreements in a written separation agreement signed before a lawyer.
#4: Not Seeking Legal Counsel
Many individuals attempt to draft their separation agreements without legal guidance. That’s not recommended at all. For example, you wouldn’t want to conduct brain surgery when you don’t know anything about medicine or surgical procedures. That is true here – you don’t know the law, despite as much time as you may spend on Google. Consulting with Calgary family lawyers is highly advisable to ensure your agreement is comprehensive and legally sound.
#5: Rushing the Process
Rushing to complete a separation agreement without careful consideration can lead to mistakes. Don’t rush through the process just to “get it done” and to make yourself feel better. You will likely regret it later. Take the time to discuss and negotiate all of the terms for your issues to avoid future disputes or “buyer’s remorse”.
#6: Failing to Include Future Considerations
Forgetting to account for future considerations like changes in income, changes in parenting arrangements due to changes in schools or a parent’s employment, for example, can create issues later on. Anticipate potential changes and include mechanisms for addressing them in the agreement.
#7: Not Considering Tax Implications
Failing to understand the tax consequences of your agreement can have financial implications. Consult with a tax professional to ensure your proposed course of action does not negatively affect you financially.
#8: Skipping Legal Review
Even if both parties agree on the terms, it’s crucial to have the agreement reviewed by separate legal counsel, and legislation requires you to both have independent legal advice.
#9: Ignoring Emotional Needs
While the separation agreement is primarily a legal document, it’s also essential to consider emotional needs. Neglecting emotional support or counselling can lead to frustration and future disputes.
#10: Not Updating Beneficiaries
Failing to update beneficiaries on insurance policies, retirement accounts, or Wills can lead to unintended consequences. Ensure that your separation agreement addresses beneficiary changes to reflect your new circumstances, particularly now that you are separated or amid a divorce.
Consult a Lawyer About a Separation Agreement in Calgary
A separation agreement in Calgary is a critical document that can greatly influence the outcome of a divorce or separation. By avoiding common mistakes such as incomplete disclosure, ignoring child custody and support, and not seeking legal counsel, you can create an agreement that provides clarity, fairness, and peace of mind during this challenging time. Consulting with family lawyers is a wise investment in ensuring your separation agreement is legally sound, comprehensive, and tailored to your unique circumstances.
There is a brighter future ahead with McLean Legal Family Lawyers. As your dynamic, multi-service family law firm in Calgary, McLean Legal Family Lawyers can offer you personalized legal services tailored to your particular circumstances. We endeavour to resolve matters quickly and with minimal conflict, offering calm, professional, and realistic advice. Given our years of experience in family law, we can assist with your child support, spousal support, divorce, mediation, and separation agreements, as well as civil litigation issues, commercial/corporate services, and real estate transactions. With over 30 years of experience and success, we’re the Calgary family lawyers that offer you a brighter future. Book your free consultation by calling 587-353-2632.