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

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We're not married. What if we agree on what happens to our property and debts after we separate?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Ministry of the Attorney General

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We're not married. What if we agree on what happens to our property and debts after we separate?updated
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Reviewed: 
March 1, 2021
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, child support, decision-making responsibility, and parenting time. Decision-making responsibility and parenting used to be called custody and access.

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 services" or "limited scope retainer" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case. For example, they could help you complete your court forms, or prepare for a hearing.

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

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