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What happens to a Separation Agreement if you later reconcile and then separate again?

By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer

Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)

“What happens to a Separation Agreement if you later reconcile and then separate again?”

The Ontario Court of Appeal was asked to address this question in the 2003 case of Sydor v. Sydor. This couple separated in 1995 and signed a Separation Agreement on February 29, 1996. Sometime later, they reconciled and then, in October 1998, they separated again for the last time. Under the 1996 agreement, the wife transferred her share in the family residence to her husband in exchange for $115,000. When they reconciled, the wife moved back into the family residence and resided together with her husband until their final separation. At trial, the wife argued that the agreement did not survive their reconciliation and asked that all property that the husband owned at the time of their final separation - including the former family residence - be equalized once again under the Family Law Act. The trial judge ruled that the prior settlement of property under the agreement remained in force and, therefore, the wife could not have the familys assets divided again. The wife proceeded to the Court of Appeal.

The appellate court ruled that a Separation Agreement becomes void upon a couple reconciling. But the court went on to say that the agreement may contain a release clause that overrides this and that specifically states that it is the intent of the parties that the agreement will remain in effect even if they reconcile and later separate.

The appellate court decided that, in this case, the agreement did indeed contain such a clause where the wife specifically released her rights to the former family residence. The appellate court found that the earlier transfer of the family residence to the husband to be final and binding.

Steven Benmor

About the author: Steven Benmor practices Family Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Visit Steven Benmor’s online Family Law Resource Center for concise answers to many more frequently asked Family law questions, feature articles on Family law topics, dozens of links to other Family law websites, and more at The information on this page is for discussion purposes only. It is by no means legal advice or even a statement of the law on this subject. Please do not rely on the accuracy or completeness of this information. Any question or concern elicited by the information on this page should be taken to a lawyer who will consider the facts of each case and the legal remedies available.