When considering divorce, people typically have questions and concerns about how to get started and how to obtain the resolutions they want. These are important issues. However, understanding what happens during the divorce process (from the time you file to when the divorce is finalized) is also important and sometimes overlooked.
Our Washington divorce attorneys at McKinley Irvin feel it is in a client’s best interest to understand how a wide range of issues and consequences that arise from divorce are handled, which is why we always take the time to help clients understand and prepare for what may happen during the process itself.
During the divorce process, spouses often wish to physically separate and live apart from one another. While this can be healthy or necessary, it should also be carefully considered and executed properly. For example, spouses who leave their home should take a full inventory of their property and assets, including marital and separate property, which can be referred to later if any property is removed.
When children are involved, steps will need to be taken to establish parenting time or temporary orders, especially for the parent who moves out of the family home.
If physical separation has occurred before the decision to divorce is made, it is important to speak to your attorney about what steps you need to take regarding your property and children.
Temporary orders during the divorce process commonly apply to parent-children relationships. It is important to note that each parent generally has a right to reasonable parenting time and contact with their children during a divorce. In some cases, parents who wish to obtain immediate changes to custody or parenting time will need to obtain temporary custody orders, including emergency orders if there is “immediate danger,” in order to have a court order that outlines the parental situation. Temporary orders may be obtained for restraining orders in cases involving domestic violence. In some cases, temporary orders may also be used to restrict spending or liquidation of assets.
Financial issues during divorce often coincide with physical separation, as spouses will often choose to divide financial accounts and assets before either party leaves the home. If there are joint accounts, money taken from these accounts may have to be accounted for or reimbursed during divorce proceedings. Spouses should strongly consider cancelling joint credit cards to avoid incurring new debt. As physical separation may also introduce the need for new purchases, such as a new residence or new property, these purchases will also need to be taken into account. In Washington State, property purchased during the divorce may need to be reviewed to determine if the purchase was made using money earned during a marriage, as it can impact property division.
Negotiation, Mediation, Or Trial
While there are many technical issues to consider, documents to collect, and other changes to make to your daily life during a divorce, one of the most important things to consider is how you view and handle the process.
Some divorcing spouses may be able to agree upon plans and decisions through negotiation and communication. This can save both time and money, as well as stress for families and children.
Settlement agreements can also be worked on using mediation, a process where an impartial third party works with both spouses to facilitate agreement.
If agreements cannot be made, then the issues must be taken to court where a judge will review the evidence and make an official decision.
We counsel our clients to evaluate these options carefully so they can make informed decisions throughout the divorce process. While most divorces are settled outside of a courtroom, going to trial is sometimes the right choice. Before making that decision, it’s important to understand how the trial process works and how long it may take.