Divorce Prep: What Should You Do Before The First Consultation

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Divorce Prep: What Should You Do Before The First Consultation
Written By: Josh Lowell ~ 8/12/2019

In Washington, divorce lawsuits can be quick and easy. Unfortunately, they can also be long, drawn-out, and complicated. One of the first questions a potential divorcee asks during the first consultation is – “how long is this going to take?” Whether you just can’t wait to divorce your spouse or your dreading the potentially emotionally painful process, there are always steps you can take to speed things up.

Compile the Right Documents

Like any lawsuit, dissolution proceedings are very document driven. This means that you and your attorney will need to work hand-in-hand to provide your spouse, the opposing counsel, and the court with the appropriate documents to prove your case so the divorce can be finalized. In many cases, you will need to file a financial declaration. Here are just a few of the documents you might need in advance:

  1. Paystubs
  2. Bank statements
  3. Credit card statements
  4. Mortgage statements
  5. Tax returns
  6. Any other financial documents

As a rule of thumb, you should shoot for at least 6-months of statements and three years of tax returns. This should provide all involved parties with the necessary information to fairly and equitably finalize your divorce.

Know Your Expenses

Part of any divorce is fairly splitting the expenses. While documentation of these expenses may be necessary depending on how deep your divorce gets into complex litigation, at the outset, having a basic understanding of your expenses can save a lot of time, effort, and money. In order to provide you with relevant and proper advice, your attorney needs to know what possible issues might arise as part of the divorce. Knowing debt information can help you and your counsel prepare for the negotiations to come.

List Your Major Assets

Same as the expenses, knowing your substantial assets is an important piece of the puzzle. You don’t necessarily need to count every fork in the silverware drawer, but understanding the major assets owned by you and your spouse is necessary to give a holistic outlook on the proceedings. This type of asset includes items such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, and even valuable collections. Documentation is always preferred but knowing these assets will help ensure you receive a fair share of assets in any future disbursement.

Have a Conversation With Your Spouse (If You Can)

While this might not be plausible in every situation – especially where there has been abuse or a major breakdown in communication – having a conversation with your spouse before initiating a divorce is a great way to speed up the process. Here’s the advice that most people don’t seem to recognize: the more amicably you can work with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, the easier, quicker, and less expensive your divorce will be. Trying to work out your own distribution of debts and assets will save you from paying an attorney to negotiate for you, and best of all, if you’re able to figure everything out on your own, your attorney’s job will be limited to document creation and filing.

Set Realistic Expectations

Don’t be the spouse who thinks – “I’m going to clean my spouse out completely. I’m going to get everything, and he/she is going to get nothing.” Washington abides by a holistic approach to divorce. In other words, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, both spouses will be treated fairly for their specific circumstances. Judges have the ultimate authority in any dissolution case. Many times it is better to work through mediation or other informal negotiation processes to resolve your case without the need for judicial intervention. As the adage goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Leave the Law to Your Attorney

At the law offices of Magnuson Lowell PS, our qualified and experienced family law attorneys are dedicated to helping you with your divorce. With years of training and experience, our attorneys are prepared to help you with your divorce from intake to trial if the situation arises. We know the law, and we know how judges tend to rule. Let us give you the information and advice you need to make informed decisions about your divorce. Call today for a free telephone consultation.


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