The Uncontested Legal Separation Agreement
We draft legal separation agreements for couples who are, for the most part, in agreement. We are not lawyers, we do not give legal advice, nor do we mediate complex issues. Our goal is to help you:
- obtain a low-cost, friendly, legal separation agreement;
- reduce the burden of usual legal practices that are adversarial, complicated and costly; and
- still provide you with the benefit of receiving legal advice from your lawyer.
Are you and your spouse well-acquainted with your financial situation (or trust that each other will provide full disclosure). Are you in full-agreement (or almost full-agreement) regarding all matters concerning property, assets, debts, children (custody, access and support) and spousal support? If yes, then it ought to be fairly simple to incorporate your agreement into a standard legal separation agreement without you having to navigate through a complex, adversarial and costly legal system.
Please check out all the specific topics below or scroll through this web page for all your answers.
If you hire us to assist you with a legal separation agreement here are the general procedures we typically follow (which can be adjusted to fit your specific situation):
- We interview you by telephone. You advise as to what you and your spouse have generally agreed to regarding all matters concerning property, assets, debts, children (custody, access and support) and spousal support.
- We book an appointment with you (and hopefully your spouse). Most initial appointments last 2 to 2.5 hours.
- We will email you a list of what documentation to bring to the appointment.
- We create the first draft of your legal separation agreement before you and your spouse arrive at the first appointment.
- During the first appointment we go through the agreement from beginning to end and edit it.
- You leave the meeting with a fully drafted and edited legal separation agreement.
- We always recommend that you review it again once you get it home to ensure nothing was missed during the appointment.
- You advise as to further changes, if any.
- We then arrange for you and your spouse to review and sign the legal separation agreement with your lawyers (we have a list of lawyers we refer or you can find your own lawyer). If upon the advice of your lawyers you wish to make further changes, we make them at no extra cost to you. However, it may mean an additional trip to your lawyer(s). Lawyer fees are in addition to our drafting fees. The goal is to help the two of you minimize the back and forth between lawyers and minimize your legal fees.
- If applicable, the land transfer(s) and a divorce application are coordinated at the same time.
We can help with your legal separation agreement if:
- The parties reside in Alberta or the parties were living in Alberta at the time of separation (and the property is predominately situated in Alberta);
- The parties are cooperative and willing to work together in the drafting of a legal separation agreement;
- There are no trust issues and the parties are willing to provide full disclosure;
- The parties will be taking the legal separation agreement to their lawyers for review, advice and signing;
- There are no complex issues; for example, those involving disclosure, trusts, exemptions, and business valuation.
We have processed more than 5000 uncontested divorces and legal separation agreements. Every time we draft a legal separation agreement it is reviewed by two different lawyers. As we have drafted more than 1000 legal separation agreements, this means our work has been reviewed more than 2000 times by different lawyers. We’ve learned what lawyers like and don’t like and from time to time lawyers will provide new wording to different sections of the agreement which ensures that our templates remain current and that we have many templates to access paragraphs that relate to unique situations. Though we cannot give legal advice, we can share with you our substantial experience.
We can help you reduce the amount of time you spend with a lawyer by as much as 90%. In situations where you must consult with a lawyer, we ensure that you maximize the quality of your time and investment with your lawyer by helping you summarize the facts surrounding your situation for quick and easy review.
A legal separation agreement is a contract between two spouses resolving all matters concerning:
- Division of property, assets and debts
- Custody, access and support of children
- Spousal support
A legal separation agreement is also an agreement which is complete (covering all issues), one in which both parties have received independent legal advice and which has been signed by both spouses and their lawyers. If you don’t have an agreement which meets all of these criteria, the Courts may or may not assist in enforcing it.
- We summarize all agreements between the spouses regarding property, children and spousal support.
- The legal separation agreement is more likely to be followed when both parties mutually reach an agreement.
- Less expensive and time consuming than having two lawyers draft & negotiate an entire agreement.
- Lawyers review the final legal separation agreement, which saves time as all matters concerning property, children and spousal support have already been thoroughly summarized for their quick review.
- Client rights are protected because they seek legal advice prior to signing the legal separation agreement.
- The legal separation agreement can be revised to incorporate any changes recommended by a lawyer.
- The agreement is most likely to hold up in Court if challenged by you, your spouse, or third party.
- The Courts will assist you in enforcing the terms of the legal separation agreement if it is not adhered to.
- Banks are more likely to cooperate with the transferring or granting of mortgages.
- Exempts you from attending the mandatory 6-hour “Parenting After Separation Seminar” (though there are many benefits to attending this free seminar).
Before notifying your spouse of a pending separation and/or divorce, you may wish to consult with a lawyer to protect your interests. Your spouse may have you locked out of your home, liquidate your assets, incur debt in both of your names, and clean out joint bank accounts. Furthermore, your actions may set a precedent. For example, if you leave the matrimonial home for the purpose of obtaining a new home for you and the children but leave the children with your spouse for a day, a week, a month or more, this may affect your ability to obtain custody or property.
If you (or your children) face the risk of having a spouse cause financial, emotional or physical harm (serious or otherwise), immediately consult with a lawyer.
The author of this Guide is not a lawyer. Neither the author nor the publisher is providing legal advice or any guarantee that the general information in this Guide will provide you with specific results for your individual situation. You should use your own judgment and/or consult with a lawyer for specific applications, if any, to your individual situation.
This process will only work if your spouse is willing to cooperate, if you and your children are not at risk, and if you are both confident that the financial information collected regarding your property, assets, debts and income are fully and truthfully disclosed.
If you are contemplating separation and/or divorce, may we suggest you complete the following instructions? Of course, you may need to tailor the suggestions to fit your specific situation. You may omit or add extra steps or you may reorder them to fit your situation (i.e. you may wish to contact a lawyer immediately for advice as to how you should proceed given your specific situation or choose not to consult with a lawyer at any time).
These instructions help you focus on the process (or facts), not the problems (or disputes/reasons for marriage breakdown). Focus on the process and be seen as more credible (and taken more seriously) by your lawyer. You will be well organized and prepared. You will reduce the amount of time spent with a lawyer. You will understand and be in control of your separation and/or divorce. You will reduce conflict. You will save hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars. More importantly, you will gain peace of mind and lessen the impact of marriage breakdown, separation and divorce on you, your spouse and your children. If there is any possibility of reconciliation, then reconciliation is less likely to be jeopardized in this non-adversarial process. Click the link below if there is a possibility or hope for reconciliation.
- Learn about the law.
- Collect and summarize relevant information using our FREE WORKBOOK.
- Identify agreements and disagreements BUT do NOT dwell on disagreements. Just identify them!
- Chose your service provider(s). We’d be happy to help. Call us toll free in Alberta at 1-800-320-2477 (or 403-229-2774 in Calgary) for a free consultation.
- Proceed with your legal separation agreement, divorce or other required service.
- Consult with a lawyer for legal advice (if applicable).
- Resolve disagreements.
- Finalize your legal separation agreement, divorce or other service.
***If appropriate, ask your spouse to read this free Guide and help with the instructions.***
Does it make sense to dwell on disagreements when all of the facts have not been gathered and summarized into a meaningful format, when you may not fully understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and prior to you and your spouse receiving independent legal advice? It is okay to identify disagreements at the beginning of the process . . . just do not dwell on them.
#1. Complete the first 6 steps to minimize or eliminate disagreements
Contact our office at any time for a free consultation to discuss your situation. We would like to assess whether our legal separation agreement services are appropriate for you.
Pausing to reflect on the situation for a week or two may be all that is necessary for you and your spouse to sit down and negotiate an acceptable legal separation agreement, unless of course, you want to wait until you’ve spent thousands of dollars and exhausting hours fighting it out with your spouse and lawyers to resolve a bitter disagreement or reach no agreement at all! Even if you think your situation is impossible, resist the urge to fight. Instead, focus on the steps found in this guide.
If your disputes are over children, you and your spouse may want to attend the free 6-hour Parenting After Separation Seminar. The facilitators help parents understand how to minimize the impact of separation on children, and offer general information (rights and responsibilities) about custody, access and child support.
If you would like to attend this free seminar, please refer to our section on <Parenting After Separation> for a list of cities (and telephone numbers) in Alberta that offer the seminar. There are also several very good books that will help you with the process of separation and divorce found in your public library or local bookstore. Make sure that the divorce literature applies to Canada and property division applies to the laws of the province you live in. Also, make sure the date of publication is recent—though keep in mind laws can change frequently (or interpretation of them may change).
#2. Until you have a fully executed legal separation agreement, all agreements are subject to change.
If you are at all uncomfortable negotiating any kind of agreement with your spouse, please keep in mind that any agreement negotiated with your spouse will be reviewed with a lawyer before it is signed. If on that advice you decide you want changes, the agreement can then be re-negotiated. Upon receipt of legal advice it is a spouse’s ‘prerogative’ to change his or her mind on a deal tentatively reached previously.
#3. Recognize that we do not represent the best interests of either party.
We do not represent the best interests of either party. Our interest is simply to help the parties with the drafting of a legal separation agreement—which is why they must each take the agreement to their respective lawyers for review, advice and signing. It is for their protection AND ours. First, each lawyer will represent their best interests. Secondly, neither party can say that they relied on us in any way for legal advice. We don’t give legal advice. We type the legal separation agreement under your direction. You rely on your lawyers for legal advice. We then incorporate any changes either of you wish, if any, based upon the advice of your lawyers.
We gather the facts (what you acquired in terms of property, assets and debts and how you propose to divide everything); document how you want custody, access and child support worded; and indicate whether or not there will be spousal support. We discuss the possibility of exemptions. We discuss general procedures to divide property, assets and debts equally (or differently if this is your wish). Your lawyers will advise as to how the law applies to all of these matters as they relate to you specifically and make recommendations based upon that advice.
We also discuss situations where parties can negotiate trades, such as a waiver of spousal support and/or child support in consideration of an unequal division of matrimonial property. Any negotiated agreement, whether equal or not, will be reviewed with each of your lawyers. If upon their advice you want to change the agreement the changes are made before signing.
We rely on the parties to provide complete, full and honest disclosure. The parties may wish to pursue a more formal evaluation and disclosure process with their lawyers if they wish or if there is distrust. Our services are completely inappropriate in situations where one or both spouses are hiding or disposing of assets and/or income or when the parties are unable or willing to cooperate in a friendly non-adversarial manner.
#4. Advance Planning
Lawyers are great at giving advice. But, there are steps that may save time and money that can be made even before you go to a lawyer to review your draft legal separation agreement. Refer to the topics below to help you prepare in advance for your lawyer.
Before taking the legal separation agreement to a lawyer for advice and signing, you can each take the agreement to a financial advisor or accountant to determine any financial consequences of the proposed division (such as capital gains taxes). You can both review your documentation with your financial advisor to ensure disclosure is accurate with respect to any financial accounts the financial planner is aware of. You can also ask if there are any financial considerations that you both ought to consider.
The Family Law Information Centre can confirm child support calculations and standard of living tests —all for free— which take into account the incomes of both parties after payment of government source deductions, payment/receipt of spousal support and payment/receipt of child support. Your lawyer can advise as to whether the declared income of either party is relevant and complete for the purposes of calculating child support.
To learn more about the Federal Child Support Guidelines and child support calculations, you may visit:
As mentioned previously, you can learn how to minimize the impact of separation on children, and general information (rights and responsibilities) about custody, access and child support. If you would like to attend this free seminar, please refer <Parenting After Separation> for a list of cities (and telephone numbers) in Alberta that offer the seminar.
Though not law, courts and lawyers often refer to these guidelines when determining a range of spousal support one might be entitled to. For more information on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, you may visit:
- JP Boyd’s article on how to calculate spousal support using two formulas.
- Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: a Draft Proposal
- July 2008 Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines Report on Revisions.
- My Support Calculator
Please send us a quick email located at CONTACT US if any of the above links are no longer valid.
If one or both parties plan to own a home following separation (either take over the mortgage of the matrimonial home or buy a new home), both parties might want to check in advance if both parties qualify for desired mortgages. Also, check to see if there is a mortgage penalty for refinancing–but be prepared to negotiate. If you both are good clients and/or are pursuing additional financing (ie. extra mortgage) you can negotiate the penalty possibly to zero!
Parties often can no longer assume mortgages without re-qualifying as was once the case. The division of property, assets and debts along with payment/receipt of spousal support and/or child support may affect the amount of mortgage one can qualify for. This may affect how the parties may wish to divide property, assets and debts as well as payment of spousal and/or child support. To illustrate, monthly payments of $3,000.00 per month spousal support will be seen as a debt. You might find it easier to qualify for the desired mortgage if lump sum spousal support is paid instead (resulting in an unequal division of property).
Upon separation and/or divorce, one or both parties may also be able to borrow from their RRSPs (even if they did so before) for the purchase of a new home (RRSP Homeowners Loan). You might want to check with your RRSP Fund Manager for rules on this. I believe if neither of you have purchased a new home within the past 4 years you might re-qualify. Check the Canada Revenue Agency website and search “RRSP Homeowner Loan”. There is an online quiz that you can complete that will tell you if you qualify.
Though most Pension Plan Administrators will divide a pension plan between two spouses based upon a Legal Separation Agreement, there have been a few instances where Pension Plan Administrators insisted upon there being a Matrimonial Property Order.
You may wish to contact your Pension Plan Administrator in advance of obtaining a Legal Separation Agreement to see if a Legal Separation Agreement is sufficient to divide a pension plan, if that is your wish. When obtaining Pension Plan Statements from your employer, you may also wish to determine some or all the following:
- Value of pension plan upon date of cohabitation.
- Value of pension plan upon date of marriage.
- Value of pension plan upon date of separation.
- Value of pension plan as of the current date.
- Ensure that the value includes your contributions, your employer’s contribution and any/all growth on the pension plan (ie. not just principal payments but any interest/growth on plan).
Your lawyers will advise as to the appropriate dates to use for division. The ability to divide pension plans during cohabitation but prior to marriage might be dependent upon whether you had a marriage-like relationship.
- Some parties want closure so quickly that they compromise what they are entitled to and give up too much too quickly. One of the risks of dealing with my company, or any non-collaborative process that goes smoothly and quickly, is that it goes smoothly and quickly.
- Once an agreement is drafted and you both have had legal advice, you do not have to sign immediately. You can take the agreement home and think about it for a few weeks, then go back to your lawyers to sign at a later date so that you have had a proper amount of time to reflect upon the agreement.
- Some parties give up too much because they feel guilty. Often it is the party that decided to separate, or the party that caused the separation (ie. due to adultery).
- I have seen some parties attempt to use guilt to coerce the other person in giving up too much. However, after parties move on and adjust to the breakdown of the marriage, the party that gave up too much regrets having given it up.
Hope of Reconciliation:
- I’ve seen some spouses “too agreeable” because their only focus is on reconciliation so they go along with the other spouse’s wishes so as to not rock the boat.
Lump Sum Spousal Support:
- Take into account the worst case scenarios. I had a client give up all the equity in the matrimonial home as “lump sum spousal support’. A few months later the spouse died and Willed everything to her sister. Her husband did not intend for everything to go to the sister!
- Or, imagine giving lump sum spousal support then later suffer an illness and be unable to work. You may have overpaid, but the terms of the agreement might be such that there is no remedy for this.
- Accordingly, you need to evaluate very carefully the risks of lump sum spousal support instead of monthly spousal support.
Lawyers will review the legal separation agreement in its entirety with their client. If everything is divided equally, for example, then usually rushing, guilt, and so on, is not as much of a concern, because it did not impact what may be a fair and equitable division. But, if the division of property, assets and debts is unequal in favor of one party, the lawyer will want to understand why and advise accordingly. In some cases, the client’s lawyer will refuse to sign due to serious concerns of inequity, coercion, or perhaps mental health issues.
Uncontested Separation Agreement
- No Children: $595 + gst (+ lawyer advice/signing fees)
- With Children: $695 + gst (+ lawyer advice/signing fees)
- $195 + plus land title fees which vary, typically between $125 and $150, depending on value of property + gst
*Note: upon review of your case by way of telephone interview, if we determine the drafting of your agreement might take substantially more work than the average file, we will inform you in advance of booking your appointment that we will assess additional fees, usually ranging $100 to $200 (ie. You have a 10-page parenting plan that you want incorporated; you have 14 rental properties, all with mortgages, etc.).
To learn more about Uncontested Divorces select “Uncontested Divorces”.
For your free consultation on legal separation agreements, please call: 403-229-2774 (Calgary) or Toll Free: 1-800-320-2477