History

Anika and Ajay cohabited for 5 years.  They had one child together, Harry, who was 5 when they separated.  Anika was a successful executive and Ajay was a chef during the relationship.  Over the course of their relationship Anika’s income increased while Ajay’s income stayed the same.   Due to the demands of her career, Anika went back to work shortly after having Harry.  Given Anika’s long working hours, Ajay did significantly more of the childcare while they were together.  He stopped working after Anika went back to work and in total he remained at home with Harry for 3 years.  The parties owned a home together and Anika argued they were otherwise separate as to property because they had signed a cohabitation agreement at the start of their relationship.  Ajay claimed that the cohabitation agreement should be set aside because he was under duress when signing it as it had been signed just days prior to the time the parties moved in together.  He also claimed he did not have proper legal advice and the agreement was unconscionable given the sacrifices he had made in his career to care for Harry and because the agreement provided there would be no spousal support for either party.

Issues

Anika and Ajay had to address the issue of whether or not the cohabitation agreement was valid, parenting terms for Harry as well as child support and spousal support.

 

Results

After separation, Anika and Ajay retained a parenting mediator to help them agree on terms of custody and access for Harry.  They were successful in drafting a full parenting plan which allowed them shared parenting.  They agreed that Anika would pay Ajay set off child support (the child support she owed minus the support he owed) of $1,259 per month, based on her income of $180,000 and Ajay’s salary of $30,000.  They could not agree on spousal support.   The parties negotiated through their lawyers for an additional 6 months and were able to settle with Anika agreeing to pay Ajay a lump sum payment of spousal support of $100,000.  This was less than the amount he may have been entitled to but in light of the uncertainty of the Cohabitation Agreement, they both agreed it was best for Anika to pay some spousal support to Ajay rather than litigate the issue.  Anika reasoned this additional amount was better spent assisting Ajay in securing a new home for him and Harry as opposed to spending it on litigation.   They signed a separation agreement which stipulated that the terms of the cohabitation agreement, with the exception of spousal support, were otherwise valid.  Anika retained approximately $300,000 and Ajay kept approximately $200,000 of the family assets.  The whole process took 12 months which included the drafting of a complete Separation Agreement.