What follows below will be a general overview of the process for completing a separation agreement. It begins by contacting our office and concludes with the completed separation agreement that is provided to the client.
Please note that this is not a precise account of how the process works, but merely a general guideline. Each situation is unique. Furthermore, different types of agreements and different types of retainers with our firm necessitate varying approaches to this process. Keep in mind that this process is not limited to just separation agreements, but can be applied to any kind of domestic contracts such as a cohabitation agreement or a marriage contract (and/or a prenup).
Step 1 – Initial Contact: A potential client contacts our firm by phone, email or in person, and we arrange an in office meeting with one of our lawyers for a consultation (click here if you would like to book a consultation, hyperlink to relevant part of website).
Step 2 – The Consultation: The potential client brings any relevant documents to the consultation so that we can determine what may be the best legal solution to their legal problem. This consultation is an information session, and we are not hired at this stage to represent the potential client.
Step 3 – The Retainer (aka the Contract): If the potential client wishes to draft a separation agreement, we will draft a formal retainer (i.e. contract between you and the lawyer) that must be signed by the client and our firm before we begin any work. This document covers the type of legal services that the firm would provide to you.
Step 4 – Gathering Info: Once the retainer is signed by the potential client and our firm, that potential client is now our client. We provide the client with a questionnaire that asks them to provide as much information as possible including things such as their finances, children, employment, assets and debts.
Step 5 – Drafting the Agreement: After the questionnaire is complete, the client provides it to our firm and we use that information to draft a separation agreement. This can also include drafting financial statements. We take this time to include the details from your questionnaire into the agreement, and include any specific terms or conditions that may have been discussed. During this stage we may ask you for more information in order to effectively include all necessary items.
Step 6 – Reviewing the First Draft: Once the first draft is completed, we contact the client to review the agreement with them to see if any other provisions need to be included or removed. This is to ensure that the agreement matches the client’s intentions and wishes.
Step 7 – Opposing Party Review and Negotiation: Once the first draft is approved by the client, we send a copy of the draft to the other spouse’s lawyer for them to review. If any terms need to be adjusted, we contact the other lawyer to negotiate until all parties agree to the terms and conditions of the separation agreement.
Step 8 – Final Review and Execution: Once everyone is in agreement, we create a final draft copy of the agreement for your review. We arrange a meeting where you attend our office and we review the final draft of the agreement in detail. Should everything be in order, we execute the agreement by having you sign the agreement with a witness and date your signature. This is done on multiple copies of the agreement, usually one for each party and one for each lawyer totalling 4 copies. Once executed, the lawyer at our firm will sign an Independent Legal Advice Certificate (“ILA Certificate”).
Step 9 – Completion: We then provide all signed copies to the opposing party for them to sign, witness and date, and for their lawyer to also provide an ILA Certificate. Once that is done, they mail two completed copies back to us and we provide the client with one completed separation agreement completing the process.
Typically this process takes about 2-3 weeks to complete. This timeline is dependent on how much negotiation needs to take place in order to resolve all outstanding issues. However, negotiating the details of your separation outside of court is a faster, simpler, and more cost-effective means of dealing with issues.
Should your spouse provide you with an agreement, we can discuss providing Independent Legal Advice services for you. This would essentially reverse the roles of the parties in the process outlined above.
If you are looking to get a domestic contract drafted, feel free to contact our firm to see what legal services may be best suited to your particular needs.