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Settle down: Divorce doesn't have to be a big fight

You have finally decided to end your marriage, and you feel torn emotionally for a variety of reasons. On the one hand, you look forward to living life on your own terms following the divorce. On the other hand, you are worried about the level of conflict you will have to endure during the divorce proceedings.

The reality is divorce does not always have to be an acrimonious and hostile process. You and the other party may be able to reach a settlement through negotiations and thus avoid going to trial. Let's take a look at how the negotiation process works during a divorce proceeding in Missouri.

Creating your settlement agreement

During the divorce negotiation process, you and your future ex will have the opportunity to discuss how you will handle divorce issues. For instance, which party will get to keep the family home? The party who gives up the family home could take more of another type of asset, such as cash savings, instead. In addition, you and your future ex-spouse can decide how you will deal with alimony. Then, all of the decisions you make together at the negotiation table must be outlined in writing.

Getting your agreement approved

As soon as you and the other party have drafted a mutually satisfactory agreement, you will submit the agreement to a family law judge. The judge will hold a hearing during which he or she will ask both you and your future ex questions about the agreement. The judge's goal during this hearing is to verify that you both understand the contents of the agreement and signed it voluntarily.

If the judge believes that your agreement is fair, meaning that it does not overly favor you or the other party, then the judge will approve it. Then, the judge will give you both a decree that indicates the finalization of your divorce. In addition, the divorce decree should document how you both resolved key issues, such as debt division, marital property division, etc.

How an attorney can help

A family law attorney can guide you through the process of creating your settlement agreement during negotiations. The attorney will closely examine your situation and help you to make expedient divorce decisions that will be in your best interests both in the short term and in the long run.

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