Property Settlement

How To Use

Before a court will approve an uncontested divorce, the court must be satisfied that the parties have agreed to settle their claims against each other.
  • The court will usually accept a settlement agreement, like this one, particularly if each party has had the advice of an independent attorney. The settlement is put in writing with this agreement. The divorcing couple can save money on legal fees by asking their respective lawyers to review it, not write it from scratch.
  • Before you can file a petition for divorce, you must meet the state’s residency requirements. This period is usually between 90 days and a year. Until at least one person has lived in the state for the required period, the court will not grant the divorce. Make sure that you meet a state’s residency requirement before proceeding.
  • Each state has its own laws and guidelines for dividing property. The state laws controlling property division can be divided into two categories: Community Property and Common Law.
  • In Community Property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), any property purchased during the marriage, regardless of who paid for it, is owned equally by the Husband and Wife.
  • In the Common Law states (all of the non-Community Property states), the laws and rules direct that assets be distributed in an “equitable” fashion. The courts may take into account any number of factors, such as the length of the marriage, each party’s earning power, lifestyle and, in some states, the fault of each party in the breakdown of the marriage.
  • Alimony is not guaranteed to either party by law. Most courts have considerable discretion about whether and how much alimony should be paid. With two career couples, courts usually choose not to require any alimony payments.
  • The most difficult area to handle is the custody and care of minor children. Parents must sort through the issues of the right to make traditional parental decisions about the child (legal custody) and the right to physical custody. Historically, there was a presumption that custody with the mother was viewed as best for the child. The trend in modern law is to award “joint custody”. In this case, the parents share legal custody, physical custody, or both. Many courts still adhere to the notion that the mother is the best custodial parent, making it an uphill battle for fathers that insist on taking an equal role.
  • It is almost certain that one parent will be required to pay child support to the other. States now have standards for determining how much support should be paid, and by whom. Courts in some states may deviate from these standards, while others cannot. For information about your state’s guidelines, contact a local lawyer or state court’s clerk.
  • College costs are usually optional and are left so in this agreement.