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Separation Agreements in Ontario

Before getting a divorce, we are often asked how to get separated in Ontario or how to file for a separation in Ontario. The most important document you will need is a Separation Agreement when going through a separation in Ontario.


What is a Separation Agreement?

A Separation Agreement is a legal contract that sets out the terms and conditions that will govern a couple’s separation. Separation Agreements are flexible, can be tailored to specific needs, and are typically negotiated and prepared with the assistance of a family mediator.


Separation Agreements can provide a clear roadmap for both parties to follow during a difficult time and can help reduce conflict and uncertainty when filing for separation in Ontario. Having an agreement can also save time and money by avoiding the need for lengthy court proceedings.


The specific provisions of a Separation Agreement will depend on the couple’s individual circumstances, but some common elements that may be included are:


Division of assets and debts:

The agreement may specify how the couple’s assets and debts will be divided between them. This may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property.

 Spousal support:

If one spouse is financially dependent on the other, the Agreement may establish the amount and duration of spousal support payments.

 Child support:

If there are children involved, the Agreement may also indicate the amount and duration of child support payments.

 Parenting time and decision making:

The Agreement may outline residency plans, and how important decisions should be made for the children.

Life Insurance and Healthcare:

The Agreement may address how much life insurance and healthcare coverage should be maintained for each spouse and any children.


 Tax implications:

The Agreement may also address the tax implications of the separation and the division of assets.

 Dispute resolution:

The Agreement may specify how any disputes that arise between the parties will be resolved, such as through mediation or arbitration.

 Termination of the Agreement:

The Agreement may specify when and how the Separation Agreement can be modified or terminated.

Is a Separation Agreement Legally Binding in Ontario?

Once the Agreement is finalized and signed, it becomes legally binding and enforceable in court. It requires both parties to comply with the terms of the agreements, which may include property division, child support and spousal support. If either fails to comply, legal action can be taken. 


Since a Separation Agreement’s provisions are binding on the parties who sign it, it’s important to seek independent legal advice from a family law attorney before signing any documents.

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Who Needs a Separation Agreement?

A Separation Agreement is for couples who once shared a life together and are now going their own separate paths.

Here’s a guide to help you determine if an Agreement is right for you:


Couples Living Apart After Cohabitation: If you and your partner lived together and are now living separately, a Separation Agreement can help in legally defining the terms of your separation.


Parents Looking for Clarity: For those with children, this agreement is crucial in outlining the residency and holiday schedule, and who will make important decisions on the children’s behalf.


Property and Financial Arrangements: Couples with shared assets or financial interests often find a Separation Agreement essential in dividing properties, debts, and financial responsibilities equitably.


Seeking Guidance: If you’re looking for a way to settle various aspects of your separation, such as rights and obligations, and personal affairs, a Separation Agreement provides a clear path forward.

How to File for a Separation in Ontario

  • Understand Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with Ontario’s family law to understand your rights and obligations during separation.

  • Separation Agreement: We will help draft a separation agreement. This document should outline the division of assets, debts, residency of your children, support, and other relevant matters.

  • Sign and Witness: Once finalized, both parties should sign and date the agreement in the presence of a witness.


  • File the Agreement: While filing the agreement with the court is not mandatory in Ontario, it is recommended to do so for enforcement purposes.

FAQs about Separation Agreements in Ontario 

Do You Need A Separation Agreement Before Divorce in Ontario?

While a Separation Agreement is not mandatory to file for divorce, it’s often beneficial. 


Two main reasons include:


  • Child Support: A judge requires documentation showing the parties child support arrangements before granting a divorce. A Separation Agreement can address this.

  • Cost-Effective Resolution: A mediation is a more affordable alternative to court proceedings. It helps resolve issues and, once the Separation Agreement is signed, is enforceable if terms are not followed.
Can You Be Separated While Living Under the Same Roof?

Yes, you can be considered separated while living in the same house. Documenting this change, such as through an email stating the date of moving to another room as the separation date, is advisable.

How Much Does a Separation Agreement Cost in Ontario?

Here’s the cost of a Separation Agreement in Ontario as per the 2021 Legal Fees Survey published in the Canadian Lawyer Magazine:



Lawyer per person

Paralegal or support staff per person

Separation Agreement with children



Separation Agreement without children



Child custody and support Agreement



Spousal support Agreement 



Division of property /assets Agreement



Uncontested divorce



Who Can Witness a Separation Agreement in Ontario?

Any person aged 18 or above can witness a separation agreement as long as they’re someone who is NOT a party to the agreement. i.e. spouse or children.

The witness can be a third party who is present at the time of signing, who is not benefiting from the Agreement, and is of sound mind.

What Happens if a Spouse Refuses to Sign Separation Agreement?

If a spouse refuses to sign a Separation Agreement in Ontario, they cannot be forced, since neither party is legally forced to enter into one. In such a situation, seeking advice from a divorce lawyer or a family law professional is advised.