Note: The Legal Services Society is now Legal Aid BC.
When couples separate, they have options for creating a separation agreement – they can use a lawyer to negotiate or engage in private mediation, and now they can use an online resource, the MyLawBC Dialogue Tool, to prepare a draft for review by lawyers.
The Legal Services Society (LSS), BC’s legal aid provider, has recently improved its Dialogue Tool, one of the interactive, online pathways on the MyLawBC website. MyLawBC is intended to help you find solutions to common legal problems. In this eNews, LSS explains how using the Dialogue Tool option can help a couple create a separation agreement.
One factor to consider when deciding which option to use is whether there has been violence in the relationship or whether there is any court order restricting contact with the other party. In that case you should definitely talk to a lawyer first, since communicating through the Dialogue Tool may be inappropriate or prohibited by the court order.
How the Dialogue Tool works
The Dialogue Tool helps you create a separation agreement that addresses your family’s needs. You make important decisions about your children, money, home, and other property.
The sections of the Dialogue Tool intake.
You start with an intake process where you answer questions about your situation and set out your ideas for the future. You create an account to do this, and your information is saved. Once you finish this step, MyLawBC sends an email to your ex-spouse inviting them to join in the process.
If you both finish this step, the system looks at your and your ex-spouse’s answers and creates a custom template separation agreement for you both to fill out.
You and your ex-spouse fill in the blanks in the Dialogue Tool. When you both agree to everything, your separation agreement is ready to download and print.
Your custom agreement includes legal clauses, with blank spaces where you and your ex-spouse add your own information. During this negotiation process, you and your ex-spouse can leave online messages for each other as you work out the finer details of your agreement. The Dialogue Tool also contains links to helpful resources about child support, parenting time, tips on negotiation, and more.
Once you both agree on every detail, you can download a completed separation agreement for you both to sign. Once signed, the agreement is legally binding, so it’s important to have a lawyer look over the agreement before you sign it. One way to find lawyers willing to provide this service is to check Unbundling.ca for its list of BC lawyers providing unbundled services or see Finding a lawyer or legal advice.
Feedback about the Dialogue Tool led to improvements
Since MyLawBC’s launch, LSS gathered feedback about the Dialogue Tool from both real-world users and user testing sessions. Based on this feedback, they made a number of improvements to the tool. Some of those changes are to the tool’s backend and may not be readily apparent. Here are some you might notice:
LSS has heard a lot of positive things about the Dialogue Tool, and hopes with these changes to hear even more. You can try out the improved Dialogue Tool or learn more about it on MyLawBC.com.