1. Talk to your partner

How do I change custody, access, and parenting arrangements in my agreement?
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1. Talk to your partner

You and your partner can agree to make a new agreement to deal with the changes in your situation. You can talk to your partner on your own, with the help of someone you both trust, or with the help of a lawyer or mediator.

A parenting plan checklist can help you with the things you may have to think about. Not everything on the checklist may apply to your situation.

Your agreement has to follow certain rules to make it binding and enforceable under the law. This means your agreement is made in a way that allows the court to order you or your partner to do what the agreement says, if either of you stop following it.

For example:

For example, the rules say before you sign your agreement, you must understand it, the process is fair, and that you and your partner give complete and honest information about your finances.

You don't need a lawyer to make a separation agreement. But it’s a very good idea to get legal advice before signing one. It's important for each of you to get your own legal advice from different lawyers. This is sometimes called independent legal advice. The advice is independent because each lawyer is only working for one of you.

You can talk to a lawyer who can help you understand:

  • The claims you can make after you separate or divorce.
  • Your rights and responsibilities toward your children and your partner.
  • The rules your agreement has to follow to make it binding and enforceable under the law.
  • How your rights change once you sign the agreement.

If you decide not to get legal advice, you may not be able to argue later that you didn't understand your legal rights when you signed the agreement.

Talking to your partner may not be an option where there is a history of partner abuse.

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Law Society of Ontario
Law Society of Ontario
Reviewed: July 15, 2019

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