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What Constitutes The Divorce Agreement?

by Houston Divorce Attorney Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III

A divorce agreement is a legally binding document that meets the expectations of both parties to a divorce. To reach the stage in the divorce action both parties will normally have hired their own divorce lawyer who will assist them in arriving at an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. Depending on the unique circumstances a divorce agreement can be quite complex but at its most basic it is simply a document that defines the division of all assets acquired during the term of the marriage, the handling of all liabilities, the determination of living arrangements and the custody and care of children if there are any.

Often the actual divorce agreement is preceded by a separation agreement. This agreement is often drawn up when the couple first decide that they wish to seek dissolution of their marriage. The preliminary separation agreement normally has a defined time period in which it is valid, it is during this time that the couple can give additional thought to the circumstances and decide if divorce is really the right way to deal with things. If the couple does go through with the divorce their divorce lawyer will find that the process goes considerably faster as much of the specifics were decided upon earlier.

The normal process is for one spouse to file for the divorce, it is at this time that the divorce agreement begins to take shape. Both the husband and wife will have their own lawyers, the lawyers first spend time with their clients and then the lawyers discuss the desires of the spouse they represent. These discussions include the sale or disposition of the family home, the division of monies held in joint bank accounts and the division of assets such as home furnishings, vehicles, etc. At the same time child custody and child support, as well as any spousal support, is discussed, if there is going to be any acrimony this is where it will take place. Eventually, the parties and their lawyers will reach an agreement but it is not legally binding until such time as both parties to the action have affixed their signatures to it.

It does not have to be difficult to arrive at an agreement, it can be quick and quite painless if the parties show flexibility and a desire to compromise. If the couple cannot compromise or they are fixed in their demands the process can drag on for quite some time. There will not be a divorce until such time as an agreement is reached and presented to a judge. In cases such as this, the divorce lawyer will usually have to draft several agreements before the divorce is finally granted.

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