Shields Up: Preparing For Divorce In An Uncertain World

Family Law Attorneys Discuss Divorce in Washington

As many in Washington State know, in spite of our best intentions, some marriages just don’t work out. No matter what the cause, the end of marriage produces tension, worry, and sometimes guilt. While spouses should do all they can to handle the emotional strains accompanying divorce, they should also take some practical steps to put themselves in the best legal position possible. Assuming a defensive, yet proactive posture is often recommended. Shields up. Here are six pointers from our divorce attorneys as you prepare for divorce.

1. Take Careful Inventory of Your Assets

This step is not always easy, since many couples divide family responsibilities and duties, and one spouse (i.e., the “other” spouse) may have controlled the finances. Either way, take the time to list all assets held in the marriage. Include important information, such as name and type of account, account number, balance, and other relevant information. Keep the following in mind:

  • Washington is a community property state. Generally speaking, all income earned and property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is community property and must be fairly split in a divorce. The same is true for debts.
  • Tax returns can serve as important tools for the identification of assets since they generally show bank and other financial accounts that generate interest income.
  • If you have a safe deposit box at your bank, go there and take a careful inventory. Did you expect to see items that are now gone?

2. Do You Have Separate Property?

Generally speaking, property that you had prior to your marriage is separate property and not subject to division like community property. Carefully list any family jewelry, heirlooms, or other items that you may have had prior to the wedding date. Have you inherited property since the marriage? Carefully catalog that, as well.

3. Know Your Income Sources

Just as tax returns can help you determine what income-generating assets you have, they are also an important source of information concerning your and your spouse’s income. If you haven’t already done so, make copies of at least the last three federal tax returns. These can be mined for important financial information later if that becomes necessary.

4. Know Your Expenses

Knowing your income is crucial, but having an understanding of the “outflow” is just as important. Go over at least six months of bank statements to get a firm understanding of your monthly expenses. In recent years, banks have stopped returning canceled checks. If you can’t identify an expense, get a copy of the check from your bank. Knowing your current monthly expenses may also provide important insight into your “post-divorce” financial strength.

5. Save Some Money

Unfortunately, divorce often has a significant financial effect on both spouses, particularly during the time when the marriage dissolution is being negotiated and settled. For a host of reasons – not just for anticipated legal expenses – you should set aside funds to help you move through this difficult period in your life.

6. Seek Experienced Legal Counsel

Having a trusted friend can be important as you face a divorce, but having a compassionate, skilled, experienced family law and a divorce attorney can also be crucial. If you or your spouse is contemplating a divorce, you owe it to yourself to retain strong legal counsel. Bolan Law Group. has more than 30 years of combined experience providing quality legal services to individuals throughout the Pacific Northwest in difficult moments, such as the breakup of a marriage. Our firm’s smaller size allows us to communicate better with our clients so as to serve your needs in the most efficient, time-sensitive manner possible. If there’s a simple solution, that’s our first choice. We work closely with you to resolve matters quickly and economically. Contact us on the web, or call our office at (253) 470-2356.

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