Navigating Divorce Property Settlements: A Step-by-Step Guide

Learn how to handle divorce property settlements with ease. This guide covers everything from negotiating to finalizing a settlement. Don’t go through it alone; read our expert advice now.


Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, and one of the most challenging aspects of it is figuring out how to divide your property and assets. 

In many cases, couples can agree on how to divide their property, but in others, it can be a long and complicated process. 

In this article, we will go over the steps you need to take to navigate a divorce property settlement, including creating an inventory list, valuing your marital property, understanding the difference between marital and nonmarital property, and more.

What is a Divorce Property Settlement?

A divorce property settlement divides the property and assets of a married couple upon their divorce. This includes tangible and intangible assets, such as real estate, personal property, investments, and debts. 

A property settlement aims to divide the assets fairly and equitably, considering both parties’ needs and circumstances.

How to Create an Inventory List

The first step in a divorce property settlement is to create an inventory list of all your assets and debts. This list should include all property and assets you and your spouse own and any debts you have.

It’s essential to be as detailed as possible so you can clearly understand what you’re working with. Click here to read a detailed article about creating an inventory list.

How to Value Your Marital Property

Once you have an inventory list, the next step is to value your marital property. This can be done by hiring a professional appraiser or by using other resources such as online property value calculators. The value of your marital property will play a significant role in determining how it will be divided.

What is the Difference Between Marital and Nonmarital Property?

Marital property is the property acquired during the marriage and is considered jointly owned by both parties. 

Nonmarital property, on the other hand, is the property owned by one party before the marriage or property inherited or gifted during the marriage. 

Understanding the difference between the two property types is essential because it will affect how they are divided. In general, marital property will be divided during the divorce, and nonmarital property will not be divided but may be considered during the negotiations of the property settlement. 

Are Debts Included in a Divorce Property Settlement?

Marital debts are included in a divorce property settlement. It would help if you listed all debts you and your spouse have, including credit card debt, mortgages, car loans, and student loans. 

You will need to work out a plan for how these debts will be paid off and who will be responsible for them.

How to Make a List of All Debts

Make a list of all debts you and your spouse have, including credit card debt, mortgages, car loans, and student loans. Be sure to include the creditor’s name, the account number, and the balance. 

This will help you clearly understand all your debts that need to be paid off.

Consider the Division of Property Like you Would Consider a Business Transaction

When dividing property, it’s vital to consider it a business transaction. This means that you should be objective and think about what will be the fairest and most equitable solution. Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment when deciding how to divide your property.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You

Divorce can be very emotional, and keeping your emotions in check when dividing your property is essential. It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and make decisions that may not be in your best interest. 

Remember to remain as calm and rational as possible when discussing dividing your property with your spouse.

Start with the Property You Want the Most

When negotiating a divorce property settlement, it’s often helpful to start with the property you want the most. This will give you a starting point for your negotiations and help you set your priorities. 

However, it’s important to remember that there may be more equitable solutions than this, and you should be prepared to compromise.

Will it Always Be a 50/50 Split?

A 50/50 split of property and assets may be considered fair and equitable in many cases. However, there are situations where a different division may be more appropriate. For example, if one spouse has a greater need for certain assets, such as a home or a car, they may be entitled to a larger share of the property.

Consider Using a Mediator

Consider using a mediator if you and your spouse have difficulty agreeing on how to divide your property. A mediator is a neutral third party who can help you work through your issues and find a mutually acceptable solution.

Adding a mediator to the negotiation process is one of the best ways to come to a settlement of your divorce. 

Be Prepared to Compromise

Divorcing couples should be prepared to compromise when dividing their property. This means being willing to give up some of the things you want to find a solution that works for both parties.

Consider Hiring an Attorney to Understand Your Rights

It’s important to understand your legal rights regarding a divorce property settlement. An attorney can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.

Finalizing the Divorce Settlement

Finalizing a divorce settlement involves several steps. Once you and your spouse have agreed on dividing your property and assets, the next step is to write the agreement. This is typically done by drafting a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), a legal document that outlines the terms of the settlement.

The MSA should include a detailed description of all the assets and debts that are being divided, as well as any agreements regarding child custody, child support, and alimony. Having an attorney review the MSA before it is signed is important to ensure it is legally binding and enforceable.

Once the MSA is complete, it must be filed with the court. The court will review the agreement to ensure that it is fair, equitable, and in the best interests of the children involved. Once the court approves the MSA, it will be incorporated into the divorce judgment, which finalizes the divorce.

It’s important to note that in some cases, the divorce settlement may be contested. If this is the case, the court will hold a hearing to determine the final settlement. The court will consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of each spouse, and the needs and circumstances of the children.

Once the divorce is finalized, it’s essential to follow through with the terms of the settlement. This includes transferring property ownership, paying off debts, and making necessary payments, such as child support or alimony. It’s also important to keep copies of all the documents related to the divorce, including the MSA and the divorce judgment, as they may be needed in the future.


Divorcing can be challenging and emotional, but it is possible to navigate a divorce property settlement with the right approach. By creating an inventory list, valuing your marital property, understanding the difference between marital and nonmarital property, and being prepared to compromise, you can work towards a fair and equitable solution.

What to Read Next

If you are going through a divorce and are interested in learning more about divorce, the following resources can provide additional information and guidance on navigating the process.


Tim McDuffey is a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri. Tim is a licensed member of the Missouri Bar and Missouri Bar Association.

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