What Needs to be Negotiated During a Pro Se Divorce?

When a couple decides to file for an uncontested divorce pro se, they may find themselves wondering what exactly they need to be sure they include when they’re putting all their agreements in writing. If there is property involved, they need to decide what they’re doing with it. Children? Then child custody and support need to be addressed. Here is a short, and by no means exhaustive, list of examples that a divorcing couple may need to discuss and negotiate in order to get it all in writing:

  • Which spouse will be responsible for filing for the divorce, and where will the divorce be filed?
  • What is going to happen to the marital home?- Wife’s marital property? (Property acquired during the marriage that the Wife will be keeping)
  • Wife’s separate property? (Property acquired before or after the marriage that the Wife will be keeping)
  • Husband’s marital property? (Property acquired during the marriage that the Husband will be keeping)
  • Husband’s separate property? (Property acquired before or after the marriage that the Husband will be keeping)
  • Wife’s marital debt? (Debt acquired during the marriage that the Wife will be responsible for)
  • Wife’s separate debt? (Debt acquired before or after the marriage that the Wife will be responsible for)
  • Husband’s marital debt? (Debt acquired during the marriage that the Husband will be responsible for)
  • Husband’s separate debt? (Debt acquired before or after the marriage that the Husband will be responsible for)
  • If the Husband and/or Wife have a small business – what will happen to it?- Will either spouse be entitled to any of the marital portion of a pension benefit, retirement fund, profit sharing plan, or 401k?
  • Will either spouse receive any spousal support/maintenance/alimony?
  • How will Federal and State taxes be filed this year?
  • If there are minor children involved…
  • Who will have physical custody of the children?
  • Who will have legal custody of the children?
  • What visitation schedule will be used?
  • Will either spouse receive any child support? If so, how much?
  • Who will claim the children as dependents on any tax returns?

These topics are best to be discussed ahead of time. If a couple starts going down this list and find that they are at an impasse with regards to a certain topic, such as alimony or who gets what portion of a 401k, then the divorce is typically considered contested and pro se may not be the ideal way to continue. At that point in time, the couple may want to consult with a mediator or they may each want to hire a divorce attorney.

 

 

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