When preparing to go through a divorce, there are several steps you can take in advance to help the process go smoothly. While there is no “formula” for success, and while you cannot control what your spouse does (or doesn’t do) during your divorce, taking control to the extent that you allow yourself to make informed decisions and feel confident that you are protecting your interests long-term.
So, what can you do to get ready to get divorced? Here are five tips from our family law attorneys:
1. Learn about the Divorce Process in Washington
While just about everyone is familiar with the basic concept of divorce, few people have a clear understanding of the steps involved in formally ending a marriage in Washington. In terms of the process itself, spouses can either resolve their divorce amicably through out-of-court settlement discussions, they can use mediation or collaborative law to resolve specific issues, or they can take their divorce to court if necessary. In terms of the issues that need to be addressed during the process, these fall into three main categories: (i) property division, (ii) financial support, and (iii) child custody. For an introduction to these issues, we encourage you to read:
2. Start to Prioritize
Both spouses need to make compromises during the divorce process. Neither spouse will get everything; and, in most cases, spouses will not be in complete agreement about how to divide their assets or who should have what rights with regard to financial support and child custody. While you do not want to start making concessions before the process begins (and before you know where your spouse’s priorities lie), you do want to begin thinking about where you are willing to compromise should you and your spouse have competing goals. For example, which assets are most important to you? Would you be willing to pay more or accept less in alimony in order to keep more of your property? If you and your spouse reach an impasse, are you prepared to go to court or do you place more value on achieving an amicable result?
Keep in mind, these questions are not meant to suggest that you should approach your divorce in any particular way. Ultimately, you need to make the best decisions for you. And even though you are planning ahead, you will still be able to make decisions and revise your thoughts as circumstances present themselves during your divorce.
3. Gather the Information You Will Need during the Process
In order to prioritize, you will need to have a comprehensive picture of the assets and financial resources that are on the table in your divorce. While most people have a general understanding of their possessions (e.g., things like real estate, cars, and furniture), most people do not have a comprehensive list of their assets devoted to memory or written down. However, in order to divide your property during your divorce, you will need a comprehensive list, and now is the time to put one together.
In addition to a list of your assets, you will need copies of your income records, tax records, bank statements, loan statements, and other financial documentation as well. If you would like a resource you can follow as you prepare, you can use our Checklist: Getting Read to Meet with a Divorce Attorney.
4. Learn about Common Mistakes You Will Want to Avoid
When preparing to go through a divorce, it is also important to be aware of some common mistakes that you will want to avoid. For example, when making decisions, you need to make sure you are relying on accurate information and the advice of your attorney, and not relying on assumptions or misunderstandings that could lead to undesirable results.
Another common mistake people make is posting too much information on social media. There are a number of ways that social media posts can come into play during the divorce process. And if you post something that your spouse can use to his or her advantage, you could unnecessarily harm your chances of securing your desired outcome in your divorce. For more information on some of the pitfalls of posting on social media during the divorce process, you can read: 5 Things Divorcing Spouses Need to Know about Social Media.
5. Meet with a Divorce Attorney
Too often, we hear from people who waited to speak with an attorney because they weren’t sure if they were ready and they didn’t want to take an attorney’s time when they weren’t yet ready to formally initiate the divorce process. But, the reality is that the process starts long before you formally file for divorce, and having the advice of an attorney during your preparations can help you prepare more efficiently and more effectively.
So, if you are thinking about filing for divorce, we would encourage you to schedule an appointment to go over your options and get advice for making the most of your time. At Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S., our attorneys routinely meet with spouses who are in the early stages of contemplating divorce. One of our divorce attorneys will be happy to sit down with you, one-on-one, and everything you discuss will be held in strict confidence. With even just an hour of personalized consultation, you will leave with a far better understanding of what you need to do, why you need to do it, and how the decisions you make now could impact your life long after your divorce is final.
Schedule an Initial Divorce Consultation in Tacoma, WA
If you would like to speak with an attorney at Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S., about preparing for the divorce process, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule an appointment at our family law offices in Tacoma at a time that is convenient for you, please call us directly or contact us online today.