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Divorce starts by filing the Petition, and filing the Response. Then you start working on the financial issues to determine spousal/child support and property division. (Child custody and visitation issues are resolved separately from the property and support issues).
- Firstly, you make a list of what assets you have, then you add the current value for each asset and any related debts.
- Secondly, you list all the debts, the creditor, and what the money was for. The court requires full and complete disclosure of all financial information before any settlement is signed and will not issue the final judgment without full disclosure by each party. We have special forms and worksheets to make this simpler for our clients. Working with an attorney, you determine what is legally separate or community property. The separate property belongs to the owner and is not divided. The community property must have a current value (by agreement or appraisal) before it can be divided.
- Finally, the community property is added up, divided by two, and then distributed so each person gets half of the value. As long as no one stalls the process, the disputes may be small and can be resolved by a joint meeting of the parties and their advisors.
You can bring disputes to a mediator, a private judge, or even a trusted neighbor. If you agree, the “mediator” drafts a “Memorandum of Understanding” to put your agreement on paper. The MOU is NOT a legally binding document. One attorney drafts the legal agreement for the other party to review and approve. It becomes legally binding when it is approved by the court.