Family law: Are final agreements really final?

When a couple decides to part ways, they may choose to have a separation agreement drawn up. Under family law in British Columbia, these agreements need to have certain things in them in order to be considered binding and final. In fact, they may never really become final at all.

In a case in British Columbia, a couple married in 1996. They separated in either 2013 or 2014 —just one of the many disputes in the case. They signed a separation agreement in 2014 drafted by the husband and without the advice of lawyers on either side. The agreement was signed as final. Subsequently, the husband changed his mind about the particulars of the agreement, stating that his wife misrepresented herself, but she disagreed and believed the agreement should indeed be final.

A Court of Appeal judge agreed with the husband, but used a broad interpretation of the Family Law Act to do so. If each party had had the advice of lawyers to have had guidance on drafting a separation agreement, they might not have had issues with the document and its contents. Without legal counsel an agreement could be considered invalid or unenforceable. 

A British Columbia family law lawyer can work with a client to draft a separation agreement that would be considered final under the law. Going it alone may create issues causing an agreement to come into question as to its validity. The more all-encompassing a separation agreement is, the better. A lawyer can ensure all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed in a separation agreement or any other marital agreement.

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