Can I Get a Separation Agreement during COVID-19?
Melissa Salfi, Vancouver collaborative family lawyer
With the rapidly evolving developments surrounding COVID-19, many people are worried about the impact the pandemic will have on their separation and divorce. common questions include, how will I meet with a family lawyer during this surreal time? Can I still obtain a separation agreement? Should I delay consulting with a lawyer about a cohabitation agreement?
While law remains one of the most traditional professions, with day-to-day operations structured around in-person meetings and lots of paper, some firms are set up differently. Some firms, including Crossroads Law, have been completely paperless (except for court) for years, with systems in place for remote work and cloud based file storage.
Such firms can, and do, regularly prepare and negotiate Separation Agreements remotely. This can decrease costs for legal work as well. At Crossroads Law we offer a flat rate of $2,499 for uncontested Separation Agreements. Therefore, the settlement and execution of a separation agreement can still occur during social distancing and Coronavirus.
The first step in this process is to schedule a video or phone consultation. Even before COVID-19, we offered this option to our clients as we understand that in today’s world it is difficult to take time off work, travel downtown, or leave young children at home. During your phone or video consultation, we will get to know you, discuss your circumstances in detail, obtain important background information, and provide you with useful legal advice. The consultation will typically last about an hour and will be included in the flat rate if you retain us to prepare your separation agreement.
After your consultation, we will send you a questionnaire to complete along with a request for the documents we need in order to draft your separation agreement. Once we have received your documents, we will prepare a first draft of your agreement. Along the way, we will likely reach out to you by phone or email with questions and further advice. Once you have reviewed the first draft of your agreement, another call or video conference is scheduled to go through the agreement with you. Once your Agreement is finalized, a letter is prepared and sent to your spouse or their lawyer for independent legal advice. Independent legal advice is an important step in the process and we always recommend it as it makes the agreement much stronger.
In British Columbia, family assets and debts are usually valued as of the date of your agreement, not the date of your separation. Therefore, delaying the process could negatively impact your property division entitlement if property values fall or the stock markets crash further. On the other hand, the value of assets could go up again after the COVID 19 crisis subsides. In this case, a separation agreement can be drafted with terms that include a future sale of property when the market rebounds. Legal and financial advice on these issues can help you determine the best approach.
This is an unprecedented time, and Crossroads Law is here to support you. We believe that the first step is understanding your case early on so that a proactive and creative plan can be put in place to manage any fall out from the Coronavirus on your separation and divorce.
During this uncertain time, the Vancouver family lawyers at Crossroads Law are well-equipped to prepare a cost-effective Separation Agreement for you by offering a client-centred and remote process. Contact us to set up your free consultation now.