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When a California couple decides to divorce, they do not necessarily have to turn to litigation to get a decision on property division or child custody. They may be able to negotiate these issues themselves. However, careful preparation can help them make better decisions during this process.

It is important for people to understand both their own financial situation and California divorce law. People may want to go over their finances thoroughly and then speak to an attorney about their obligations or what they might be due. An attorney may be able to provide best and worst case situations for property division, child and spousal support, and child custody based on state law. A person may want to consider whether negotiating will be fruitful or if it might be better to go to court.

Negotiations will be more productive for people who have a good idea of their own wants and needs as well as a sense of those of the other party. People might need to make a budget to get a sense of what to prioritize. Going into negotiations with these priorities in mind may increase the likelihood that people will be able to get most of what they ask for.

Negotiating may also give people more flexibility in how property is divided. In California, a community property state, most assets will be considered to belong to both people if they were acquired after marriage and could be split 50/50 by a judge during litigation. However, in negotiations, one person might agree to keep some assets while the other person keeps other assets of roughly equal value. This may be helpful if there are certain assets that one person is particularly attached to. Attorneys may be able to assist during these negotiations.