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We're not married. What if we agree on what happens to our property and debts after we separate?

Question
We're not married. What if we agree on what happens to our property and debts after we separate?

Glossary

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Reviewed: 
September, 2015
Answer

If you and your partner agree to divide your property and debts, you can put what you've agreed to in a separation agreement. This is a written contract that you and your partner make.

Your separation agreement can deal with your assets and debts alone, or can include other things like spousal support, custody and access, and child support.

You don't have to wait until you and your partner agree on everything before making a separation agreement. For example, you might agree on how to divide your property before you have a plan for your children. So you can make a separation agreement about your property first.

You can make a separation agreement if you’re married or in a common-law relationship.

There are some good reasons to make a written separation agreement:

  • It can be faster, cheaper, and less stressful than going to court.
  • It lets you and your partner decide what works best for you and your family.
  • It's easier to prove what you and your partner agreed on if you have a written rather than a verbal agreement.

You can talk to a lawyer who can give you advice about the rules your separation agreement needs to follow to so that the court can enforce it.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers will provide "unbundled" or "limited scope" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer, you may be able to find legal help in other places.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has a service to help people with separation agreements. If your income is low enough, LAO covers the cost of up to 10 hours with a family lawyer to help you negotiate and draft a separation agreement.

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