A separation agreement is a contract between the parties that resolves issues arising from the separation. An Agreement can resolve issues on an interim or final basis. It can resolve all the issues or resolve individual issues such as parenting, support and property division.
Without resorting to the Court, parties can craft their own resolution if they agree to terms. Because of this, an Agreement can be tailored to their wishes and preferences, and can even decide on future solutions which is usually not an option for the Court.
Parties ought to know their rights and obligations under the law before entering into an Agreement. The example that many of our clients have heard is of the lottery ticket. If a lottery ticket were for sale for $500, you may or may not choose to purchase the ticket depending upon the odds. If you were assured that the lottery ticket would win $100K, you would likely agree to purchase the lottery ticket. However, if you were assured that it had no chance of winning, you would not likely purchase the lottery ticket.
Similarly, before agreeing to pay $100K for property division you ought to know if this is a good/bad deal. If under the law, you should pay $150K then it is a good deal. If you should pay $50K, then it is as bad deal. Parties should obtain legal advice to determine if the terms of an agreement are a good/bad deal.
Parties can enter into an Agreement without legal assistance. Pursuant to Rule 55 of the Family Law Act, an Agreement is required to be in writing, signed by the parties and witnessed by a person over 18 years of age. It is also important to date it.