January is a busy time for family law attorneys. The stress of the holidays seems to make an already unhappy marriage even unhappier, and in January, people vow to never spend another holiday with their soon-to-be-former spouse. While we understand that this issue can feel very urgent, and sometimes it is, we also hope people consider how best to prepare their children, finances, and themselves for what is to come. Below please find some issues to consider before rushing to the courthouse to file your petition.
- Consider your safety. First and foremost, people ready to divorce should think about their safety and the safety of their children. If a spouse is in a marriage involving domestic violence, it is unlikely that any other consideration is more important than removing themselves from the relationship. If it is time to remove yourself for safety concerns, make a safety plan with someone experienced with domestic violence situations. Separation can be a very dangerous time for a spouse leaving a relationship involving domestic violence. The following issues to consider assume that you feel safe where you are currently residing.
- Choose the right attorney. If you are considering hiring an attorney to help you through the divorce filing and subsequent proceedings, give yourself time to interview multiple attorneys. It might be that you find the right attorney at your first meeting, but you also may have to try multiple attorneys before you find the right fit. During your first meeting with a prospective attorney be clear about your objectives. Ask the prospective attorney to be clear about what you can expect from him or her, as well. Having clear expectations from the outset can make for the most successful client-attorney relationship possible. It is also important that you determine whether your expectations align. Giving yourself the time to find the right fit when it comes to your family law attorney will be well worth the effort.
- Gather financial information and documents. If you have only limited information about the family finances, it is usually in your best interest to gather as much information as possible prior to leaving the family home. Make copies of your financial documents and tax returns and keep them in a safe place. It is unfortunate when a spouse leaves a marriage without basic financial information and then has to wait for the other spouse (or financial institutions) to provide the information. Save yourself time and resources by obtaining as much financial information as you can prior to leaving the marriage.
- Think about how your timing will affect your children. Sometimes there is a better and/or worse time for your kids to experience the separation of their parents. If possible, you may want to avoid the child’s birthday, important testing, or other event that may impact their emotional health or academic success. In most cases, moving your divorce filing forward or backward a couple weeks to avoid an important date for your child will not have a noticeable impact on your divorce case. Timing of your divorce is something you should try to discuss with your attorney at your first appointment.
- Think about your financial status and how it might change in the near future. If there is a big event in you or your spouse’s financial future (a raise, getting laid off, a substantial inheritance, a significant debt to be incurred, selling of a business, etc.), make your attorney aware of the potential event. Sometimes the timing of your divorce can impact your post-divorce financial status significantly.
These are only five of many issues that should be considered prior to filing for dissolution of your marriage. What issues should be considered depend on your priorities and circumstances. If you would like to speak with a Seattle family law attorney about your case, we would be honored if you chose Blair & Kim.