As you are approaching or going through a divorce in Washington, it can be tough to keep track of everything involved. When combined with all the emotions a divorce often brings up, it’s not surprising that people often make mistakes in their cases that end up costing them down the road. While you may know some of the more common mistakes people make–such as trying to spend all the funds in a shared account or adding significant debt to a shared credit account–there are other potential divorce pitfalls to avoid that you may have never considered.
Having a “Past Transgressions” Mindset
As you are going through a divorce, it’s only natural to think about what led you to it and what wrongs your spouse has committed. However, Washington is a “no-fault” state, so the court isn’t going to weigh factors like your spouse cheating or being dishonest. Of course, there are certain serious behaviors that may impact areas of the divorce–such as physical abuse when children are involved or a gambling habit if it led to marital property being spent–but there’s nothing to gain from trying to correct the past wrongs of your marriage in most cases. If you are very focused on that, you may lose sight of things that will have an impact on your post-divorce life and find yourself on the short end of the stick.
In addition to focusing less on what your spouse did and more on how to settle the divorce fairly and in a way you can live with, you’ll also need to adjust your expectations. Many people enter divorce with the idea that they will be able to get all that they want, especially when their spouse’s behavior was very questionable or poor. However, as noted, the court doesn’t care about what your spouse did that led to the end of the marriage most of the time, and you will have to be able to compromise at times. Your family law attorney will discuss what you want from the divorce with you and give you a realistic overview of your options so you are able to work toward getting the most important decisions in your favor.
Missing Important Deadlines
After your divorce case has been started formally in the court, there will be deadlines you have to meet. Failing to provide your attorney with the documents or information they need to comply with these deadlines will just end up making your case go on longer and can even end with you being found in contempt of court. While the thought of getting all of your important documents together, such as financial records, may seem overwhelming right now, it is one of the first things you need to do to ensure your case goes as smoothly as it possibly can.
Having the Wrong Legal Representation
Any lawyer with a valid license can practice family law, but this is a complex area, so it’s best to have an experienced family law attorney for your representation. Another thing to consider is what type of attorney to have on your side. In a divorce, it may be tempting to get a very aggressive lawyer, but this type of approach can actually backfire in family law because there is so much emotion involved already. An overly aggressive lawyer may sour the waters between you and your spouse even more, making the entire process more stressful and antagonistic when it doesn’t need to be.
Following the Advice of Friends and Family
Talking to your family members and friends about the divorce can be a great outlet, and they will naturally want to offer advice. Keep in mind that they will not, however, be living with the results of the choices you make, and their advice may also be tainted by dislike of your spouse and their actions. Speak to your attorney for experienced yet neutral advice on the matters in your divorce.
In hindsight, it’s all too easy to see how people make mistakes while going through a divorce. Keep the less-traveled tips above in mind as you navigate your divorce so you have a better chance at a smoother process and a more desirable outcome.