How Do I Execute a Family Law Agreement?

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The most common family law agreements are:

  • cohabitation agreements, used when a couple plan on living together together and may or may not get married in the future,
  • 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.


All family law agreements are executed in the same way: the people entering into the agreement sign it (not necessarily at the same time) in the presence of a witness, while that witness watches. That's it!


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. The same person can witness both parties' signatures. 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 them 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, 2023,   )
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.

Agreements can also be executed in counterparts, which simply means that each party and their witness signs a separate copy of the agreement. In this case, the agreement should include a clause saying that the parties have agreed that it may be signed in this way.

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, September 19, 2023.

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.