At Collaborative Divorce Waterloo Region, one of the questions we often get asked by our clients is, “Do we really need a separation agreement?” If you do not have children or own property, and you were involved in a short-term marriage, a separation agreement may not be necessary. On the other end, there are several factors that indicate a separation agreement should be a necessary part of your divorce:
1. You have children—If you have children and want to dictate what the visitation schedule will look like during divorce proceedings, a separation agreement is needed. Without one, you run the risk of your former spouse suing you. Additionally, having this plan in place during separation is helpful for determining the amount of child support to be paid.
2. You and your spouse own property—For most divorcing couples, the marital home is one of the largest assets owned by both parties. Issues relating to how the home is titled, who is responsible for repairs, who is responsible for the mortgage, and more can all be resolved though a separation agreement.
3. You have to split retirement accounts—Many spouses assume they will keep their retirement accounts and their former partner will keep theirs, but this approach does not always work since it is difficult to value these accounts from the offset. A separation agreement can help you properly value all retirement accounts and split them accordingly.
4. You want to prevent future liability—If your spouse was at fault for a car accident, you could be liable for the damages without a separation agreement. Or, if your spouse owns a business, one of these agreements removes you from all liability related to the business.