Divorce by Agreement

March 31, 2018


If you and your former spouse are amicable about separation and divorce, it may be possible for you to save time, stress, and money by handling your divorce by way of a written agreement called a separation agreement.

If you and your former spouse agree on issues such as custody, division of property, child support, and spousal support, a divorce by written agreement may be in your best interest.

A separation agreement is a custom document drafted by your lawyer to fit the needs of you, your former spouse, and your family. The content of the agreement varies based on what you and your former spouse are willing to agree to. However, most separation agreements will cover the following areas:

Spousal support;
Child support;
Custody and access of the children; and
Division of assets (including the house and furniture).



After the separation agreement is signed, your lawyer can make an Application for Divorce by Written Agreement on the basis of "martial breakdown" - which means you and your former spouse have been living "separate and apart" for one year. What does "separate and apart" mean? In most cases, this means living in separate homes, but it is possible for you and your former spouse to live under one roof and still be living separate and apart.

How much does it cost? Most lawyers charge between $500 and $1,000 to prepare a separation agreement; however, the cost of the agreement varies based on the complexity of the negotiations and the assets involved. For example, if you have business assets you need to divide between you and your former spouse or a pension, the agreement would need to address these assets as well.

Regardless of the cost of the agreement, the cost savings are significant when compared to the cost of a contested divorce going to a formal hearing: between $10,000 and $30,000 where custody and spousal support disputes become protracted.

Your lawyer represents you, and not your former spouse; this means your former spouse will need to either waive or obtain independent legal advice in order to complete the agreement.

Money aside, there are also the emotional benefits of divorce by agreement. If you and your former spouse have children, reaching an agreement on custody and child support issues can help you avoid lengthy and emotionally taxing court proceedings. Let's face it, kids know when their parents are fighting.

After you've signed the agreement, it will be included in the Application for Divorce by Written Agreement, along with other documents. Neither you nor your former spouse will have to attend court - the documents confirming your divorce will simply arrive in the mail once they are processed by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (Family Division). 

Divorce by agreement isn't for everyone. There are times when people are simply too far apart on the issues that matter to them. However, if you and your former spouse think you can agree on the various elements if a separation agreement you can save time, stress, and money by signing a separation agreement and handling your divorce by way of agreement.

This post was written by one of our lawyers, Danielle MacSween.
If you'd like to contact Danielle, you can reach her at danielle@manleylaw.ca


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Anna Manley

Anna Manley
Anna is the principal lawyer of Manley Law Inc. and is a regular contributor to the Manley Law Blog. She practices in the areas of Real Estate, Privacy/Internet, Corporate, and Wills & Estates

Danielle MacSween

Danielle MacSween
Danielle is an associate lawyer at Manley Law Inc. and is a regular contributor to the Manley Law Blog. She practices in the areas of Family, Immigration, and Labour & Employment