Online kits to help you complete your separation agreement with checkboxes may look like they solve all your problems: they are readily available, fully customizable, and easy to skip over language you don’t understand. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ aptly applies. You won’t recognize conflicting provisions or out of date legal phraseology. You’ll pass on critical waivers and releases so your obligations fail to secure an endpoint. You’ll confuse inconsistencies with unreliable and incomplete statements of financial disclosure, the foundation of domestic contracts. Retaining a lawyer means critical facts are included and the focus of the provisions are what you want and are legally enforceable in a binding separation agreement. You’ll also have recourse if there is a problem down the road. What needs to be in the separation agreement? Your separation agreement should define your legal issues arising from your marriage and the breakdown of the relationship and how they will be resolved. Terms should be consistent throughout the document and the language drafted so you will still understand the provisions when you review it annually for any changes. The contract should contain sufficient flexibility where children are involved. Flexibility to accommodate changes in parents’ income, security for the duration of the support obligation, and clarity as to when it terminates. The support provisions must consider and apply the Child Support Guidelines. Provisions relating to the family business and property ownership and division should provide clear end goals, a delineated process including members of the multidisciplinary collaborative team, viable benchmarks, as well dispute resolution provisions. Negotiating the buy-out or transfer provisions for spouses involved as owners or on the business side of the family business will need to compliment any spousal support considerations. Benefits of having a lawyer draft your separation agreement The burden of properly drafting the agreement falls on the shoulders of an experienced practitioner who will be capable to explain your exposure to financial risks and long-term gains. The preliminary interview will assess the scope of the legal issues and if any valuations, income determinations, or ancillary documents need to be prepared in support of the separation agreement. Placing limitations or waivers to restrict terms to a specific duration or amount is worth the legal fees. Knowing your legal family law rights and obligations can only be accurately and comprehensively outlined and explained to you by a family law lawyer. No commentary provided in an online site can provide the nuances and context relevant to your unique circumstances than a lawyer sitting at the same table in front of you. Separation Agreement & Negotiation Lawyer in Toronto If you choose to separate, you will want an experienced professional to guide you and negotiate through the process. Lorisa Stein is an experienced senior family law lawyer in downtown Toronto who utilizes the collaborative process to resolve legal matters during separations. Please view our blogs to learn more about separation agreements and the collaborative process. To schedule a confidential consultation with Lorisa, contact her through her website or call her direct line at (416) 596-8081.