If you and your spouse are separating, you’ll want to make sure you have a signed separation agreement in place. There are many reasons for this, and in this blog we discuss what your options are if your spouse refuses to sign the separation agreement.
Why is a separation agreement important?
A separation agreement is a legal record of what separating spouses have agreed upon between each other in terms of dividing assets and parenting arrangements.
A separation agreement is important for a number of reasons:
- It provides certainty for you both.
- It provides details of where the children will live, when they will see the other parent and what child support will be paid.
- The separation agreement deals with how property will be divided.
- The separation agreement documents important details that you will both need to refer to during the divorce process and can reduce the amount of disputes you may have while finalizing your divorce.
- Often times lenders will require a properly executed separation agreement in order to approve you or your spouse for new financing.
What happens if my spouse refuses to sign the separation agreement?
In some cases, the divorce process will be amicable and parties can come to terms of an agreement themselves, which would then need to be drafted and signed by each party before his or her own independent lawyer. However, if you can’t come to an agreement on certain items or if your spouse is unwilling to sign a separation agreement, then you should seek expert legal advice.
Your lawyer can help you send a written notice to your spouse to try to engage them in the negotiation and settlement process. Your lawyer can also provide advice as to how to negotiate with your spouse, if there is a specific reason they refuse to engage in settlement discussions or sign a separation agreement.
In the event that they still refuse to engage in settlement discussions or sign a separation agreement, , then the next stage is to proceed to have your matter decided by a third party; either a court, or an arbitrator if the other party agrees to use that process. Obviously this may not be ideal if you’re looking to have a quick and inexpensive settlement. Having your property, support and parenting matters decided by a third party will increase the cost and duration of the process. We recommend trying to come to an agreement via negotiation or mediation before it escalates to court or arbitration.
Note however, that the court will still need to be engaged in order to finalize your divorce judgment. Generally though, this is a simple consent process that follows after matters of property division, parenting and support are settled in your separation agreement.
Can I make someone sign a separation agreement?
No, but you can take legal proceedings where a judge will make a decision on matters like the split of assets, support and parenting. If you’re looking for expert legal advice about separation agreements, RT Law can help.