A full and comprehensive separation agreement in relation to all issues in dispute is often the document that encompasses the entire agreement between the parties arising out of a breakdown of a relationship. However settlement can be achieved by way of minutes of settlement or by an interim separation agreement to deal with temporary issues pending negotiation or final adjudication. These are valid and enforceable according to the same criteria that apply to separation agreements.

Separation Agreement

Separation agreements are most commonly used where no application has been commenced. Once all issues are settled, either party can bring an application for a simple divorce.

Minutes of Settlement

Minutes of settlement are commonly used to settle issues in the context of an application. They are usually briefer than and not as comprehensive as a separation agreement. They may be used for dealing with issues that are to be incorporated into a court order, while the parties might prefer to have a separation agreement for issues that they wish to keep out of the public record. Even in minutes of settlement, it is recommended that releases be included in order to bring as much finality to the settlement as possible.

Interim Separation Agreement

Interim separation agreements are appropriate where the negotiations are potentially protracted and the parties wish to bring some certainty to their lives pending negotiations. For example:

  1. Parties may wish to have a custody assessment, which could take months to complete. In the interim, they need to ensure that there is some schedule in place for the children, rather than an uncertain ad hocarrangement.
  2. Financial disclosure may be extensive and time-consuming to prepare. A valuator may be necessary to determine the value of a business. In the meantime, preservation of property should be assured.
  3. The parties may require that all disclosure remain confidential.
  4. Where spousal support is concerned, an interim agreement is required for the payor to be able to get a tax deduction for the payments and the recipient to pay tax on the payments.