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What is the significance of a separation agreement?

While it is evident that having a well drafted separation agreement is key to achieving your goals during separation, you may think that the terms of the agreement are temporary and will have no lasting effect. In reality the terms of a legal separation agreement last indefinitely or until they are modified.

This means that if you eventually decide to divorce, any decisions the judge had made with respect to division of property in the legal separation proceedings will remain effective during the divorce proceedings. More importantly, if you and your spouse are unable to agree on a divorce settlement, the judge may rule in accordance with the terms of the separation agreement – in effect indirectly finding the legal separation agreement binding on the parties. This may be particularly common when the couple can’t agree on allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and the judge determines that it would be in the best interest of the children to maintain the current adequately functioning arrangement.

Alternatively, if you reconcile after the judge approves the separation agreement, the court may determine that the separation agreement shall remain valid as a post nuptial agreement.

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