What is negotiation?

2. Learn about your rights

Once you or your partner decide to separate or , you usually have to make decisions on legal issues like:

  • who will stay in your home
  • how your children will be cared for and where they will live
  • who will make decisions for your child
  • financial support, including and
  • if and how you will divide property

You can give up some rights for others in a . For example, you might give up your right to spousal support to get a larger share of property. As long as the process for reaching the agreement was fair, you are allowed to do this.

But there are some rights that you're not allowed to give up. For example, a parent cannot agree to “give up” receiving child support just because they don't want to deal with the other parent. Child support is a right of the child.

The law says that the amount of child support has to be reasonable. Child support is reasonable if it is similar to the amount in the Government of Canada's child support tables or if other support arrangements have been made for the children.

A lawyer can give you and help you understand what you are allowed to put in your separation agreement.

A lawyer can also tell you what the law says about your rights and responsibilities. Rights are what the law says you can get. Responsibilities are what the law says you have to do. If you understand what the law says, you can better decide what you will agree to and if your partner is being reasonable.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for everything, some lawyers provide “unbundled” or “limited scope” services. This means you pay them to help you with only certain things, such as giving you advice on a draft agreement or helping to draft an agreement for you.

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

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