While no two divorces are alike, many cases deal with common issues that Washington law requires you to resolve in your divorce. One common aspect of all divorces is the need to divide all property and debts owned by the parties, whether held separately or jointly. While the existence of a prenuptial agreement is ideal for resolving some of these issues, many couples simply do not have such an agreement in place, particularly in the case of a lengthy marriage. As a result, the couple must either agree on the disposition of property and debts, or the court will make a decision for them. In any case, you can get a head start on the financial aspects of your divorce by taking some simple steps to protect yourself and your assets.
First, save some money and establish credit on your own. Open a credit card with a small spending limit, and keep it paid off every month. This will allow you to build credit independently of your spouse. Similarly, open a bank account that is solely in your name and start putting back some money each week to pay for divorce-related expenses, such as court fees and attorney’s fees.
Next, get your finances in order. Make copies of important financial documents, including mortgages, bank statements, retirement fund statements, pension plans, credit card debts, promissory notes for the payment of vehicle loans, personal loan statements, property tax statements, student loan statements, and state and federal income tax returns. Make sure that you are aware of all debts incurred during your marriage, as well as the assets that you own. If you own a safety deposit box, you should make sure you know its contents. Also look for accounts and debts that your spouse may have incurred without your knowledge. Keep the copies of these documents in a safe place; you will want them when you meet with a lawyer in order to start the divorce process.
Finally, determine how you will live following a divorce. Is income from your job sufficient to support you? Can you afford to remain in the marital home? What kind of budget will you have following your divorce? These are all decisions that you should start considering; by making these decisions early in the process, you will be better prepared for the divorce proceedings that may be ahead of you.
The divorce process can vary greatly from case to case, and some cases are much more complex than others. No matter what issues arise in your divorce proceedings, however, we are here to help. The lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law have handled countless divorce cases throughout the years, as well as all other family law-related matters. Contact an experienced Washington divorce attorney today so that we can explain your rights and responsibilities related to divorce in the state of Washington.