What is a property settlement agreement? Do I need it?
Written by Craig Cherney

What is a property settlement agreement? Do I need it?

Over the years of marriage, couples often accumulate many assets. Deciding how to split the asset base can leave you feeling frustrated and confused. If you’re ready to divorce, an experienced attorney can help you work through the process, including creating a viable property settlement agreement.

What is a Property Settlement Agreement?

A property settlement agreement lays out “who gets what” after the divorce. It provides a complete accounting of your former marital property and how you’ve agreed to divide it. You, your spouse and your attorneys will work together to make sure it is thorough and accurate as possible.  There are many moving parts.

The agreement will include your major assets: the primary residence, vacation homes, retirement accounts, cars and bank accounts. However, this is just the beginning. You may have undeveloped land, a second or third home, recreational vehicles, valuable personal items and much more. In addition to describing your assets, the final legal document will also reveal who is responsible for any outstanding secured or unsecured debts after the divorce is final.

Once signed, the property settlement agreement is a binding contract. This means both you and your spouse are required to follow the details. It will also become a part of the divorce decree to be adopted by the judge as a court order. Since this document includes a comprehensive allocation of your assets and debts, it needs to be accurate, detailed and complete.  Most importantly, because the agreement is ultimately converted to a court order—failure to follow the agreement can generate serious consequences years after the fact.


When dealing with valuable or sentimental items,  disagreements inevitably arise. Unlike conventional litigation in court, privately based Collaborative Divorce keeps the focus on finding mutual solutions that are right for the entire family not just husband or wife. When both spouses can step back and consider the bigger picture, satisfactory results are achievable, particularly in the Collaborative Divorce context.

Rather than spending endless hours and money in contested court proceedings, collaborative divorce professionals work together to help you mutually negotiate agreeable solutions on your own terms. During this process, attorneys and financial neutrals advise and guide you and your spouse through the legal aspects of your divorce. They answer questions and address issues, leaving less opportunity for conflict to arise. When the focus is on problem solving and results, rather than blame and digging up the past, solutions to your disagreements are possible.  Collaborative Divorce truly can bring you through this process sooner, at less cost, and without the emotional drama often encountered in a “scorched earth” divorce that serves nobody.

Modifying the Agreement

Unless you both agree to change your property settlement agreement in writing after the divorce, it can be difficult to make amendments. Competent legal professionals can help you complete the process correctly. The agreement affects your life years into the future. Completing it thoroughly and properly, the first time, is essential to secure your long-term security and support.

Why You Need Professional Legal Support

A collaborative divorce relies on negotiation and agreements, rather than arguing and litigating like a traditional divorce. A collaborative group of professionals can help you navigate legal, communication and financial issues. The goal is to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

Conventional divorce is hard. It no longer has to be.  Collaborative Divorce is a whole new ballgame.  Working with caring and competent legal counsel can help make the collaborative process as quick and painless as possible. Contact a professional at Best Legal Choices to create your property settlement agreement today. Collaborative Divorce often is flat-fee, not hourly based, and driven by the mutual goal to salvage the family dynamic, while also legally splitting all assets and liabilities as required by law.  It’s truly a “new” paradigm that is long overdue in Arizona.