Knowing just how to pick your battles as you go through the divorce process is crucial. Sometimes, you might be tempted to give up on things worth fighting for just to get to the end of the process. After all, a difficult divorce does take its toll on your emotional, mental and physical well being. In other cases, you may find yourself fighting long and hard for things that will cost you more than they are worth in legal expenses at the end.
As you discuss your situation with your divorce attorney in Washington, consider the points below when it comes to creating your list of goals and needs for your divorce’s eventual outcome.
Child Custody–It’s Circumstantial
Naturally, when children are involved, they become the most important thing in the divorce, specifically who will get custody. In a typical situation, court-ordered custody will probably be close to a 50-50 split, but keep in mind this can be a source of ongoing conflict or tension with your ex-spouse.
The court is going to put the best interests of the children first when considering custody. It’s best to try to be objective here–think about what their best interests really are and try to reach an agreement with your ex instead of having the court handle it. If you can’t, the court will decide for you, and you’ll both likely be less satisfied with this result.
If you are going to fight for full custody of your kids, it’s important you can show the court this would be in the children’s best interests, and you will need to work with an experienced child custody law firm in Washington since your case will be complex.
The Marital Home–Not Always Worth It
Despite your marital home likely being the biggest asset you owned as a couple, it may not be worth haggling over in the property division. Be realistic about whether you can afford the home on your income alone before you decide to go for it. The home is an asset, so if you receive it, you’ll receive less of other assets in exchange. This does not make much sense if you run the numbers and see you’ll be unable to continue paying the mortgage and other bills associated with it using your money alone. That scenario will result in you ultimately losing the home, which is not the best way to start your new post-divorce life.
Retirement Assets–Go for It
Over time, the retirement assets in your marriage could be worth more than the rest of the property you owned together combined. Here, you’ve got to think in the long term and not the short term. If your spouse has a lot more retirement income than you do, it’s likely worth it to aim for your piece of the pie. Whether the retirement assets are IRAs, 401(k)s, pensions, profit-sharing plans or deferred compensation, it may be necessary for your financial security in the future. Since this area of your finances can get complicated, it’s best to work with your attorney and a financial adviser–who can advise you on potential tax consequences–on retirement account issues.
Other Personal Property–It Depends
Unless you have some very high-value personal property items, it’s often not worth it to fight over these items. Usually, sentimental and emotional value outweighs financial value when it comes to personal items.
If there are some bigger-ticket items, such as a newer stove, that both of you want, it’s best to try to compromise. If not, you may end up paying far more than the items are worth due to court costs and legal expenses.
Your divorce may very well be the most painful and personal “battle” you will take part in over your lifetime. While you want to be independent in front of your ex, this is not the time to show you are self-sufficient by not taking any help from others. As you go through the process, your support network of family, friends and other people should include a divorce attorney whom you trust and can rely on. Retaining experienced counsel is one of the earliest steps you can take in a divorce to protect yourself and your family and help secure your future.