Reconciliation after signing a separation agreement is a complex and significant aspect in family law. The repercussions of this decision on the legal status of the separation agreement, especially in Ontario, necessitate a detailed understanding.
In Ontario, the general rule states that a separation agreement becomes void upon the reconciliation of the parties involved. This principle is anchored in case law, notably in the decisions of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Sydor v. Sydor and Ernikos v. Ernikos. These cases highlight the underlying philosophy that reconciliation negates the basis on which the separation agreement was formed.
Exceptions to the General Rule
However, there are notable exceptions to this general rule. The validity of certain provisions post-reconciliation depends largely on the specific clauses within the separation agreement.
Specific Clauses in Separation Agreements
- Final and Binding Clauses: For example, if the agreement specifies that certain dispositions (like the transfer of a vehicle) are to be considered final and irrevocable, regardless of any future reconciliation, courts may uphold these clauses even after reconciliation.
- Definition of Reconciliation: The agreement might include a definition of what constitutes a ‘true reconciliation’, which could involve conditions like a minimum period of uninterrupted cohabitation.
Clauses on Partial Voidance: Some agreements might state that only certain parts of the agreement become void upon reconciliation, preserving the validity of certain transfers, payments, or dispositions made up to that point.
An essential aspect of this process involves the role of lawyers.
Duty of Lawyers
Lawyers are obligated to discuss the possibility and implications of reconciliation with their clients. This duty is part of the broader divorce process and includes:
- Advising on Divorce Act Sections: Lawyers must inform clients about specific sections of the Divorce Act focused on the reconciliation of spouses.
- Informing about Counseling Services: The duty extends to providing information about available marriage counseling or guidance services.
- Impact on Divorce and Corollary Relief: Understanding the effect of reconciliation on an ongoing application for divorce and any related relief is crucial.
Consulting a Family Lawyer
Given the complexities and individual nuances of each case, consulting a family lawyer is highly advisable for anyone considering reconciliation after signing a separation agreement. A lawyer can provide tailored advice, ensuring that the rights and interests of the parties are effectively protected and that they understand the specific implications of their situation.