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Settling your divorce outside of court may be possible

Going through a marital dissolution generally is not a pleasant ordeal. After all, both you and your spouse may be at odds about how to handle your divorce issues, such as how to split your property.

However, if you are able to resolve your divorce issues outside of court, the process may be much more palatable for both of you. Here is a look at how the process of settling your divorce matters outside of court works in West Virginia.

What is involved in developing a settlement agreement?

Instead of going through traditional divorce litigation, you and your future ex-spouse can negotiate and resolve your divorce issues in an informal manner. For instance, you can determine who gets to keep the marital home versus who gets to keep a majority of the retirement savings. You can also decide on how to address spousal maintenance as well as child support if you share young children.

In addition, you can figure out who will have legal and physical custody of the children. Perhaps the children will live with you primarily, but the other party will have visitation rights. Also, you and the other party can agree to share legal custody of the children, meaning that you both play a major role in making decisions regarding your children's upbringing.

Next steps after coming up with a settlement agreement

Once you discuss and sort out your divorce issues, you will put together a settlement agreement in writing. Then, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will present this agreement to a judge located in the particular county where you or your spouse filed the petition for your divorce.

Afterward, you and your future ex can expect to take part in a hearing. During the hearing, the judge will likely ask you some questions and determine if you and the other party understand the agreement. The judge's goal is to also find out if you both voluntarily signed the agreement, rather than signing it by coercion. If the judge is pleased with your responses, he or she will accept your settlement agreement.

What happens following court approval?

After the judge has accepted your settlement agreement, you will receive a divorce decree showing the finalization of your divorce. The decree will also document how you and the other party resolved your key issues. The benefit of settling outside of court is that it typically reduces the stress and animosity that often come with going to trial in West Virginia.

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Joseph Brophy Cordell, Attorney at Law
115 1/2 West King Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Phone: 304-707-0673
Fax: 304-263-3378
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