Free Separation Agreement Form and Top 10 How to Tips
Free Separation Agreement Form and Top 10 How to Tips
If you’ve decided to go it alone and draft your own settlement agreement using a separation agreement form or templete, it’s vital to remember that you’ll be creating a legally binding contract which, if completed correctly, will have the power to shape the nature of the future responsibilities and rights of the two former spouses the agreement relates to.
It follows that this is a pretty important document we’re dealing with here, one that needs to be created with great care and attention to detail. To help you achieve this goal, here are my top ten tips to ensure the separation agreement you create from a free template is as robust as it can be:
TIP 1: BE VERY THOROUGH
Any separation agreement that’s going to stand the test of time and the close scrutiny it will be subject to needs to cover ALL relevant issues and not leave any loopholes that could lead to issues or questions from either spouse. It will need to cover all possible repercussions that could result from the separation, like taxation impacts for example. And it’s vital the agreement deals with disputes that might arise by offering up ways that any future conflicts can be resolved.
TIP 2: BE TOTALLY CLEAR
The language you use in your separation agreement can’t be open to interpretation. It has to be precise and definitive, and expressed in a way that can be easily understood by both parties. Don’t fill your separation agreement form with legal jargon just because you think it lends the document extra gravitas. Always use plain, everyday language so it’s clear to everyone what you’re trying to communicate.
TIP 3: CONFIRM THE ACCURACY OF ALL DETAILS
There’s no room for estimations or wild guesses in a separation agreement. All the information it contains, particularly those that relate to income and financial statements needs to be truthful and accurate. The same with names and addresses, bank account numbers as well as any dates mentioned. They all need to be precise.
TIP 4: BE VERY EXPLICIT
Some elements of your separation agreement will require you to go into great detail. We’re talking about things like individual and family assets, physical objects you are planning to divide between you, and other important matters such as corporate shares or other investments. These all need to be listed in the greatest of detail. Your free separation agreement form probably won’t offer up enough space for this, so you are better off attaching a separate sheet with this information to avoid overcrowding the main document.
TIP 5: AVOID THOSE ONE SIZE FITS ALL SEPARATION AGREEMENT KITS
There are some separation agreement kits available that claim to provide legal clauses that can customized to suit your circumstances. But in reality, there’s no such thing as a good one size fits all separation agreement kit. If you don’t understand the legal implications of these clauses, many of which are outdated anyway, you could be getting yourselves into a whole world of pain by using them. Leave the legal language to the legal professionals, and leave those one size fits all templates right where you find them.
TIP 6: AVOID FREE SEPARATION AGREEMENT BOILERPLATES TOO
Standardized clauses are unlikely to totally match your set of circumstances, rendering this type of separation agreement template a dangerous choice. As our earlier tip stated, it’s vital to be specific and detailed. Boilerplates are broad and generic, which goes against everything a separation agreement should be.
TIP 7: BE FUTURE FOCUSED
Things are going to change in the lives of both spouses, and these need to be taken into account in the terms of your separation agreement. Consider child custody as an example. Your agreement will need to state clearly when responsibility for child support ends, and what happens if one or other spouse remarries. All potential scenarios need to be covered.
TIP 8: COLLABORATE WITH YOUR SPOUSE
It’s an obvious but vital point. Your separation agreement is going to affect both of your futures. For an agreement to last, the terms need to be created in collaboration with each other, with both parties agreeing to the content. Any agreement dominated by one spouse over another is destined to cause future conflict. Your agreement should be an equal and joint venture, because if both parties feel they have had equal input into the terms of the agreement, they are more likely to support and honour its terms.
TIP 9: ALWAYS BE REALISTIC
While it’s been mentioned that details are essential to any separation agreement, there’s no way you will be able to cover absolutely every aspect of your separation in your templated agreement. And any terms or obligations that are simply too unrealistic or impossible for one or other spouse to uphold in their daily lives will be the first terms to get broken, inevitably leading to disputes. So be sure to make all terms achievable for whoever they relate to.
TIP 10: GET YOUR SEPARATION AGREEMENT REVIEWED BY A PRO
Like anything you ever write, it’s always good to get a neutral’s opinion. And with something as important as a separation agreement, it’s vital. You’re likely to both be in a whirl of negativity and unhappiness when you’re writing it, and this can lead to important points being overlooked or brushed aside as being too difficult to deal with right now. But the whole point of separation agreements is to deal with these difficult matters. That’s why you should let a divorce financial specialist or mediator or parenting specialist view your agreement and use their experience and knowledge to make sure your separation agreement is fit for purpose.
As you can see, there are plenty of considerations that need to be thought about when drafting your own separation agreement using a free template. Following these tips will certainly point you in the right direction and avoid some of the stumbling blocks and conflict you are likely to face. But really, there’s nothing like getting professional help when drafting something as important as a separation agreement.
Have your Agreement Reviewed by a NEUTRAL
Most Do-it-Your separation agreements are drafted at a point when the two of you are stressed, unhappy and in a overwhelmed headspace, and it is precisely the time when many important considerations can get overlooked, avoided, or brushed aside as “too difficult.” For these reasons, it is of particular importance to have the assistance of a neutral professional such a mediator, divorce financial specialist or parenting specialist apply a trained eye to your settlement arrangements. I will prepare each of you for moving through independent legal advice
I will share with you my “Separation Agreement Cookbook” A collection of clauses and custom solutions to almost any separation and divorce situation.
My “Separation Agreement Cookbook” has all the clauses from my of 9 years of writing separation agreements for people like you. I will also make available to you by immediate email download access to the Law Society of Ontario Separation Agreement Sample.
Ken S. Maynard is an Ontario Accredited Divorce Mediator (Acc.FM) and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). He is a specialist in comprehensive divorce mediation services resulting in a separation agreement. You can meet with Ken at any of the 6 DTSW Greater Toronto mediation centres including | Aurora | Barrie | North York | Vaughan | Mississauga | Scarborough