Separation Agreements and Strategic Planning

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  • October 25, 2016

With approximately half of common law partners and married couples separating, the transition to two households requires more than planning. Ensure interested parties have their voice and that underlying interests are uncovered and financial implications are considered.

Gather the facts: If your partner has laid out a plan of action for you to review ask open ended questions to learn more. Ask specific questions to refine your understanding. Consider the practicality of the suggested timelines and the rationale for each term proposed. What assurances have been made this proposal is durable yet flexible to meet life’s challenge and your changing needs.

Identify your own personal needs: Being a partner in the relationship or a spouse in the marriage means you are a part of the solution. Your role is more than to simply respond to or accept decisions made on your behalf. What do you want for your future? What needs important to you must be preserved?

Discover commonality of goals and interests: The values you wish to instill in your children don’t need to be disrupted or rewritten. If you share the same desire to reside in the best school district for the children, make it happen.  Keeping the family business performance on track during divorce negotiations to preserve wealth and the opportunities for future generations can remain a joint goal. Take steps to develop protocols to preserve and continue valuable domestic relationships in the family enterprise.

Polarity of interests creates opportunity and possibility. Discussions may be deadlocked when opinions appear to be polar opposites. Explore the positive elements of each option cobbling together a strong combination of the subparts of each to generate a new possibility.

Test the compatibility of terms agreed: Ensure that all terms of the proposed separation agreement are accurate, compatible, are practical and durable. Does the preamble appropriately identify the goals of the agreement? Are the foundation statement and facts accurately stated?  Are there appropriate timelines for events to commence and terminate? Does the quantum, annual adjustments and sharing of certain expenses meet the provisions of the Child Support Guidelines? Are transfers of ownership inclusive of related debt obligations? If there is a waiver of a legal obligation such as spousal support then ensure that there are no corresponding terms permitting a review of that release in the future.

Financial accountability: The economic impact resulting from family members relocating into two households may resonate deeper. Planning for possible career-ending events, early retirement, unanticipated health crises, and other unforeseen obstacles take on greater meaning. Advance financial advice can assist with the development of realistic budgets and income forecasts. The regular payment of tax neutral child support payments is non negotiable and is intended to cover a portion of children’s fixed expenses such as food, accommodation and clothing. For their variable special and extraordinary expenses, the parents share such expenses on a pro rata basis. For married spouses, the statutory regime of the division of the net value of assets may provide unexpected funds.

Planning has multifaceted dimensions to acknowledge and develop particularly when a family enterprise divides and distinguishes family roles and responsibilities. The dialogue at work won’t translate well at home. The term sheet for separation agreements need to be practical, resilient, balanced, and durable.

If you are undertaking the planning to develop a comprehensive terms sheet for a domestic separation agreement contact Lorisa Stein at her direct line 416 596-8081 or at www.LorisaStein.com for a family law consultation.

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