Written By: Josh Lowell ~
A Washington divorce can be a simple process if all parties are cooperative and responsive. Much of the delay and cost stems from two sources: anger and confusion. Attorneys may not be able to help efficiency problems caused by the former, but some uncertainty and misunderstandings can be nipped in the bud before a case is even filed. Before you retain counsel to represent you for your divorce, consider taking the following steps:
- Get Organized
Especially for couples that have been married for many years, documents, assets, debts, and other relevant information can be hidden in stack of unorganized piles. Attorneys and their staff typically charge by the hour. The more organized you can make the relevant information and documentation, the less time your attorney will spend making heads and tails of your situation.
- (Try to) Understand Your Financial Situation
Often, parties to a divorce – especially stay-at-home parents – tend to not understand or not know much about the available assets and debts. If possible, before you meet with your attorney, try to get a better grasp on your financial situation. At a minimum, even knowing what types of assets exist will help you and your counsel make plans or create strategies towards settlement. At best, if you can gather bank, credit card, retirement, investment, mortgage, auto loan, and other financial statements, you’ll be prepared for immediate action if needed.
- Think About Your Non-Negotiables
Kenny Rogers wrote that “you got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” This lyric is as true in divorce as it is in life. Before you start your case, think about the topics high on your priority list. If equal custody is your number one priority, let your attorney know, so they can formulate a plan. If maximizing spousal maintenance or distributing a great share of community assets is your non-negotiable, knowing that in advance will allow you to strategically plan your options.
- Try Negotiating with Your Spouse
I never recommend signing a divorce agreement without consulting an attorney, but it never hurts to try some initial negotiations or discussions with your spouse. Obviously, in cases of domestic violence or other manipulation, working with an attorney right away is likely better. If you and your spouse are on good terms, though, you may be able to work out a parenting structure – even generically – that will help speed up the process. You may even be able to ask your spouse about the finances to better prepare you for meeting with your attorney.
- Find a Great Attorney
Not all attorneys are created equal. Many – especially those at big firms – prioritize billing over customer service. Many firms have three to five paralegals for every divorce attorney. At Magnuson Lowell, PS, our experienced team is ready and able to fight for your interests. We are a small-town firm with big time experience. Feel free to call today for a free case evaluation.