Make decisions

To finish your divorce or legal separation, you need to decide how you'll divide property and debts​, whether anyone will pay spousal support​, and how you will care for and support your children (if you have them).

You can do this by working with your spouse (or domestic partner) to reach an agreement. If you can't agree you can ask the court to decide.

Different ways to make decisions

You can work with your spouse to decide these issues together

Working out an agreement with your spouse does not necessarily mean you have to sit down together. Some people work out agreements over the phone or email, or get help from someone else, like a mediator.  

Once you reach an agreement, you'll write down that agreement. 

These instructions are the same whether you're getting a divorce or legal separation.

If your spouse isn't participating, you can make decisions without their input

If your spouse never filed a Response and the two of you do not have an agreement (you're getting a default divorce), you can tell the court in writing what you want without your spouse's input. The court will still need to approve what you ask for.

You can skip this part and start filling out your final paperwork.

Learn how to finalize your divorce if your spouse didn't respond

 If you can't come to an agreement, you can ask the court to decide

When couples can't reach an agreement on some or all of the issues by working together, they can ask the court to decide.

If you do this, you'll get a few more chances to try to agree. But, if you still can't agree, you will need to have a trial where a judge will decide the issues in your case.

If you need something before you have an agreement - like spousal support or child custody - you can ask the court to make a temporary decision (issue an order) about your finances or family situation while the divorce is on-going. Learn how to ask a judge to make a temporary decision while you try to work things out.
 

At a glance

Make decisions and write your agreement

People reach agreements in different ways. This is one way to make decisions and reach an agreement. Select any step to learn more and get step-by-step-instructions.

  • Review the basic rules

    Review basic rules on property, support, and child custody.
    See this step

  • Decide if you have enough information

    Check if you have enough information about finances, property, and your children to make decisions. If not, find out how to get the information you need. 
    See this step

  • Propose an agreement and negotiate

    Find out what you already agree on. Propose something. Start negotiations. 
    See this step

  • Write out the agreement or ask the court to decide

    If you agree, write out the agreement. 
    See this step 

    -OR-

    If you don't agree, ask the court to decide at a hearing or trial.
    Learn about divorce trials