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A divorce settlement agreement is a legally binding document that a California couple uses to set rules for their behavior around shared assets, such as a business or real estate, after a divorce. A couple with children may also include terms in their agreement that deal with custody and parenting .

It is important to stick to this document and to not attempt to change its terms even if a person feels that their relationship with their spouse would benefit from it or if it is in a person’s own favor. However, a person who does a favor for his or her ex that is not covered in the settlement agreement is not obligated to continue doing it. A favor does not constitute a legal precedent, and the terms of the agreement supersede such a favor.

An individual should feel like a full participant in the process of creating the divorce settlement agreement. This includes speaking up about any loopholes they spot in the document, any aspects they do not understand or any provisions they do not agree with. While an attorney may have the legal expertise, the individual has the most thorough knowledge of how they interact with their former spouse and what protections might be needed. Understanding the document will also be to the individual’s advantage if they must later go before a judge to ask for its enforcement.

Some people might struggle with balancing the emotions they feel around a divorce and making practical decisions for their future. This could include points in a divorce settlement agreement as well as other issues around property division. An individual should avoid drawing out a divorce unnecessarily and work toward compromise, but they should also make certain that they protect themselves financially. If negotiating the terms of the divorce with their spouse is not possible, a lawyer may be able to act as a mediator between the two ex-spouses.