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Can we prepare our own separation agreement?

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Anonymous Asked:

Can we prepare our own separation agreement and take it to a lawyer during our consultation to review and add comment - basically if we do all the paperwork and the lawyer just reviews it for content and accuracy and then notarizes and registers it.

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You are allowed to negotiate your own separation agreement, without legal assistance, however it is not advisable. This is a very technical area of the law and it would be better to have the agreement prepared by a lawyer. Your most economical option is to have one of you retain a lawyer and have that lawyer prepare a draft separation agreement based on your mutual wishes. The other spouse could then take that draft agreement to their own lawyer to obtain independent legal advice. This is the best way to ensure both parties are protected and to increase the chances that the agreement would be respected by a Judge if one party sought to challenge it in the future.

However, to answer your question directly, although not advisable, it is possible to take a separation agreement that you mutually drafted to a lawyer and ask that lawyer to witness it. That could include notarization, simply as proof that both parties have signed it. However, this is different from one or both parties obtaining independent legal advice. One lawyer should not provide legal advice to both parties participating in the signing of a separation agreement. When you state that you wish the one lawyer to review it for “content and accuracy” you are really suggesting that one lawyer should provide legal advice to both parties and this would not be proper.

In any event, if you wish to have a free consultation to discuss this matter you are welcome to call me at 866-557-3222.

(The information provided above is general, not legal advice, as circumstances vary from case to case. As well, generally speaking, the above information relates to Ontario law. Thus, if you wish legal advice that you can rely upon for your specific case, or if you are making inquiries where Ontario law may not apply, please contact Andrew Kania for a free consultation).

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