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How does a separation agreement work?

When it's time to get a divorce, one of the things you know you'll have to do is divide your property. In many cases, couples are able to work together to come up with a separation agreement that works for them and feels fair. In some cases, couples are unable to do so and judges must decide for them. It's in your best interests to try to come up with an amicable solution before heading to court, because a judge's ruling is final.

When dividing property, it can be misleading to think everything has to be split down the middle. The property should be split more or less evenly, but that doesn't mean dividing each bank account or each debt in half. Instead, try to weigh the value of each item and come up with a distribution plan that gives you and your spouse around the same amount of debts or assets.

If you disagree about what to do with your property, you can go to mediation or have an arbitrator work with you. In mediation, a third party listens to you and helps you both come up with an agreeable solution. In arbitration, the arbitrator listens to both sides and then makes a decision. Arbitration may or may not be legally binding.

If any of these conflict resolution ideas are of interest to you, your attorney can tell you more about how they work. If you are able to agree, your attorney can help you submit your separation agreement to the court so you can continue to finalize your divorce.

Source: California Courts, "Dividing Property and Debts in a Divorce," accessed May 19, 2017

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