How Do I Execute a Family Law Agreement?

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

The most common family law agreements are:

  • cohabitation agreements, used when a couple plan on living together but don't plan on marrying,
  • marriage agreements, used when a couple plan to marry, and
  • separation agreements, used when married spouses or unmarried spouses have separated.

Other agreements might include interim agreements, made after negotiations have started but before a final settlement, parenting agreements, trust agreements, confidentiality agreements and so on.

Execution[edit]

All family law agreements are executed in the same way: the person making the agreement signs it in the presence of someone else, while that person watches. That's it!

Witnesses[edit]

The person who witnesses the signature can be anybody, with just a few exceptions. Witnesses must be 19 years of age or older, they must be sane, and they shouldn't be another party to the agreement or someone who stands to benefit from the agreement. It is not necessary to pay to have a lawyer or notary public serve as witness.

The role of the witness is to simply say that the witness knew the person signing the agreement and saw they sign the agreement: "I saw Frank sign the agreement, and I knew it was Frank because Frank has been my neighbour for the last six years" or "I saw Ming sign the agreement, and I knew it was Ming because I saw her driver's licence and the picture matched Ming's appearance and the name on the licence matched the name on the agreement."

Signing the agreement does not make the witness a party to the agreement or put the witness under any obligation at all to either party.

Signing the agreement[edit]

Family law agreements are executed by having each of the parties sign their names, using their normal signatures, in a spot on the last page of the agreement that looks like this:

SIGNED by Yitzhak    )

on April 20, 2013,   )
at Salmon Arm, BC,   )
in the presence of:  )
                     )
___________________  )  ___________________
Signature            )  YITZHAK BERNSTEIN
___________________  )
Name                 )
___________________  )
Occupation           )
___________________  )
Address              )

___________________  )

The party to this agreement, Yitzhak in this case, signs his normal signature above the line on the right. The witness signs above the top line on the left and fills out the extra information about the witness' address and occupation.

It is also a good idea (but not required) that each of the parties and the witnesses initial each page of the agreement other than the page with the parties' signatures.

An agreement that has been executed by both parties is called a perfected agreement.

For more information[edit]

You can find more information about making and executing a family law agreement in the chapter Family Law Agreements.


This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Beatrice McCutcheon, July 5, 2017.


Creativecommonssmall.png JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.


Normally referred to as the "Supreme Court of British Columbia," this court hears most court proceedings in this province. The Supreme Court is a court of inherent jurisdiction and is subject to no limits on the sorts of claims it can hear or on the sorts of orders it can make. Decisions of the Provincial Court are appealed to the Supreme Court; decisions of the Supreme Court are appealed to the Court of Appeal. See "Court of Appeal," "jurisdiction," "Provincial Court" and "Supreme Court of Canada."

A court established and staffed by the provincial government, which includes Small Claims Court, Youth Court and Family Court. The Provincial Court is the lowest level of court in British Columbia and is restricted in the sorts of matters it can deal with. It is, however, the most accessible of the two trial courts and no fees are charged to begin or defend a court proceeding. Small Claims Court, for example, cannot deal with claims larger than $25,000, and Family Court cannot deal with the division of family property or matters under the Divorce Act. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."

A resolution of one or more issues in a court proceeding or legal dispute with the agreement of the parties to the proceeding or dispute, usually recorded in a written agreement or in an order that all parties agree the court should make. A court proceeding can be settled at any time before the conclusion of trial. See "action," "consent order," "family law agreements" and "offer."

In law, a form of possession of property in which a "trustee" keeps and manages property for the benefit of another person, the "beneficiary," without owning that property and usually without acquiring an interest in that property other than as payment for their services. The trustee holds the property in trust for the beneficiary. See "constructive trust," "ownership," "possession" and "resulting trust."

In law, a person named as an applicant, claimant, respondent or third party in a court proceeding; someone asserting a claim in a court proceeding or against whom a claim has been brought. See "action" and "litigant."

A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."

A person authorized to administer affirmations and oaths, and to execute or certify documents. All lawyers are notaries public in addition to being barristers and solicitors. See "barrister and solicitor.”

A person with direct, personal knowledge of facts and events; a person giving oral evidence in court on oath or affirmation as to the truth of the evidence given. See "affirm," "evidence," "oath" and "opinion evidence."

A duty, whether contractual, moral or legal in origin, to do or not do something. See "duty."

In contract law, finished, legally complete and enforceable; executed. A "perfected" agreement is one that has been dated and signed by all parties in the presence of one or more witnesses.

An agreement between two or more persons about family law issues that have arisen or made arise, dealing with their respective rights and obligations to one another, which the parties expect will be binding on them and be enforceable in court. Typical family law agreements include marriage agreements, cohabitation agreements and separation agreements.

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