Divorce and Property Settlement: 5 Tips to Negotiate With Your Spouse

When you go through a divorce in California, you’ll have to go through several steps—and one of them is creating a divorce property settlement.

What is a Property Settlement in Divorce?

California is a community property state. That means the property you acquire (beginning on the day you marry and ending on the day your marriage ends) is supposed to be divided equally between you when you divorce.
A property settlement agreement is the agreement you and your spouse reach to divide your property equally and fairly. Equal doesn’t always mean 50-50, though. It can mean that you each get your own vehicle, even if one is valued more highly than the other, and for the most part, the courts will take into account whether you feel the agreement is fair and equitable.

Does a Divorce Settlement Agreement Include Debt?

A divorce settlement agreement does include debt. All of the debt you incur while you’re married is considered community property; you’re both responsible for it.

Divorce Property Settlement Laws in California

In many cases, divorcing couples can figure out a property division arrangement that works for everyone involved.
However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, or if the agreement you reach is obviously skewed unfairly to one side, the Superior Court steps in and splits your property and debt equally.

5 Tips for Successfully Negotiating a Divorce Property Settlement With Your Spouse

Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to reach an agreement on your own. If you can’t, you’ll force the judge to step in. That can drag out your divorce, and often, couples come out of the courtroom feeling as if they’ve both lost. (Your Stockton divorce and property settlement lawyer will encourage you to reach an agreement with your spouse long before you show up in court because doing so will save you time and money—and you’ll have fewer headaches with the whole ordeal.)

Pledge to Look at Your Divorce and Property Division as a Business Arrangement

When you divorce, you’re dissolving your marriage contract. While that seems like an unfeeling way to look at things, it’s how the law sees it—and your property division is no different. Treating property division as a negotiation process can make things much simpler.

Be Logical and Reasonable

You can’t afford to ignore the “big picture” when you’re negotiating a divorce settlement with your spouse. You don’t have to be adversarial; in fact, looking at a divorce like something you have to win can be counterproductive.

Watch for Coercive Tactics

While coercive tactics can be tough to spot, if your spouse is attempting to use them on you, it’s imperative that you stop, back away from the process, and regroup. Coercive tactics that some spouses employ include:
Personal attacks, including insults and implications
Lying or threats
Psychological tricks, such as attempting to get you to feel guilty
Refusal to negotiate
Escalating demands
Planning delays to make things more difficult for you
Withholding money or access to your children
Chances are good that your divorce attorney is going to notice these tactics if your spouse uses them—they’re actually fairly common in adversarial divorces.

Use Helpful Phrases to Encourage Your Spouse to Cooperate

Negotiations come to a grinding halt when one party says, “I’m not going to let you win.”
Remember that in successful negotiations, both parties “win.” When you’re working with your spouse to reach an agreement, try phrases that help the process along, such as:
“Can we go over this again to make sure I understand it correctly?
“Please correct me if I’m wrong, but…”
“My main concern is fairness.”
“Or we could try…”

Don’t Become Trapped in Predictable Scenarios

It’s perfectly normal for divorce negotiations to seep into your emotions. The key, though, is not letting your emotions rule the negotiation process. When your spouse becomes angry or attempts to drag you into a disagreement, step back. Take some time to cool down and let your attorney summarize the issue so you can move forward.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Divorce and Property Settlement?

We can help you with your divorce and property settlement agreement. Just call us at 209-910-9865 to tell us what you’re going through. We’ll put together a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.