5.5 Writing Agreements


  •  A great resource to help you build a separation agreement is the Family Law in BC  Separation Agreement Builder
  •  If you and your spouse are not ready to write a separation agreement yet but are ready to negotiate you can check out the online negotiation platform at My Law BC.

If you’ve been able to settle some or all of the issues, it’s important to get that agreement on paper. A separation agreement must be in writing for it to be registered and enforced.


Separation agreements start with the date and the full names of the parties to the agreement. Recitals follow, which describe the background or details of the agreement (such as date of marriage, separation, children’s names and birth dates). Next, the terms of the arrangement form the main body of the agreement. Finally, the document ends with the execution (signing  and dating of the agreement by both parties and witness).


For more writing tips check out Chapter 8.1 Legal Writing


Writing Tips  

  1. Use “will” or “must” instead of “shall”.                                                      
  2. Group issues: The main body of the agreement should be grouped according to subject area: children, child and spousal support; and property
  3. Use short, simple, descriptive sentences. 


Reaching Settlement Tips

1)  Stay future focused – It will be tempting to bring up the past, however, if it’s not going to help you reach an agreement, avoid bringing it up. It’s natural to feel angry or hurt after a break up, but if your goal is to settle matters, don’t let your emotions take control.

2)  Remember to breathe- This may seem obvious, but when we are stressed we tend to hold our breath. By consciously thinking about breathing you can let go of the built up tension and avoid blowing up.

3)  You won’t get it all- You will probably not get everything you want. You will need to compromise. Stay realistic and find an agreement that will work for you.

4)  Listen- Really listen to what your former spouse is saying. Let them finish speaking before you start talking. A good tip is to paraphrase what they just said, this shows that you’re listening and helps prevent misunderstandings. To paraphrase use phrases like “If I understand you correctly you want...”  “I’m hearing that you find it important that...”

5) Stay Cool- Don’t lose your temper. You will achieve more if you can express yourself in a calm and reasoned manner.

6)  Think it over - Give yourself time to consider all the implications of the agreement, both immediate and longer-term.

7)  Have clear objectives –Figuring out what you want before you go into negotiations is key. Knowing what’s important to you will help you avoid being caught off guard. Before you sit down to negotiate, fill out on the next page My Priorities Worksheet.