“We have our own agreement, and we just need it signed by lawyers!”

We refer to these as “kitchen table” agreements as terms are often discussed and tentatively agreed to by couples sitting at their kitchen tables.  “Kitchen table” agreements are very unlikely to become legally binding, but the terms discussed can form the basis for a formal separation agreement.

While it is imperative to obtain independent legal advice prior to signing a formal Separation Agreement, we thought it may be helpful to provide an overview of issues to consider when putting together your own kitchen table agreement.

  1. Get organized

Put together your important documents:

  • A list of all your assets and debts (whether owned in your sole name or in joint names);
  • Recent income tax returns and pay statements from your employer;
  • A list of all your children’s expenses (if you have children).

Gathering and sharing all relevant disclosure is vital if you want to sign an agreement that can best stand the test of time.

  1. Create a framework

While there are all sorts of templates you can access online, you will likely want to speak to these four main issues:

  • Parenting plan
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Division of property (including any real property)

Creating a framework that seems like something you and your spouse/partner can live with may serve to help the process along.  Having a general understanding of what you both want also aids in allowing you to prepare questions for when you decide to consult with a family lawyer.

  1. Know your limits

There is a difference between engaging in difficult conversations and full-out contentious arguments. Be mindful that separation is often a very stressful time; many complex emotions arise that may make having productive conversations tough to have. It is important know when to take a step back if communication starts to break down. If  you think is starting to happen, then consider seeking the help of a professional (whether that be a lawyer, parenting coach, etc.) to ensure that things do not escalate, and to avoid damaging relationships.

By Alyssa Bird

If you have questions about this post or collaborative law in general, contact me today at abird@evansfamilylaw.ca.