Divorce Lawyer Gig Harbor, WA
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you’ve already been served with divorce papers, or you’ve decided to seek a legal separation, it’s time to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer Gig Harbor, WA residents trust. Even if you’re not yet sure of whether divorce or legal separation is right for your family, scheduling a consultation will allow you to ask questions, be advised of your legal options, and will place you in a position to make an informed decision about your future. One of the decisions you’ll need to make if/when you decide to legally separate or divorce is choosing an initial “approach” to your process that best fits your situation, goals, and needs.
Divorce Approaches – The Basics
When you meet with the team at our firm, a Gig Harbor, WA divorce lawyer will explain these approaches in detail. You’ll be able to ask any questions you may have about what you can expect from each approach and how our style of client representation will serve you well under each scenario. Note that not all couples finish the divorce process according to the approach they began with. Sometimes, needs and expectations “change the name of the game.” No matter what, we’ll advocate on your behalf by building you a strong case and defending your rights with focus, determination, and compassion.
If you and your spouse agree on virtually terms of your divorce and child custody arrangements, you will likely need little lawyer intervention. Instead, we will work with your spouse’s lawyer to draw up all necessary paperwork and you’ll be able to legally “split” with a minimum of time, effort, and monetary investment.
If you and your spouse hope to keep your process amicable but you don’t agree on all terms, you may benefit from mediation, attorney-led negotiation, or a hybrid of these two approaches. In a mediation setting, a neutral third party will sit down with you, your spouse, and both of your attorneys. All parties will discuss the issues at hand and the mediator will help to keep things on track but won’t offer advice or settle differences. Attorney-led negotiation occurs when either the attorneys communicate and then bring information to you for your approval or disapproval, or all parties negotiate together without a mediator.
If you and your spouse have fundamental disagreements about property division and/or child custody issues, you’ll need to go to court to have these issues ruled on by a judge. This approach can be time-intensive and more expensive, but sometimes there is no alternative. There is no right or wrong way to approach your divorce, as every couple has different needs.
Seeking Divorce? Consider These Financial Steps
Thinking about your financial future when you are going through a marital separation might be the last thing you want to do, but it is necessary. At Robinson & Hadeed Family Law, we strive to make the process and outcome easier for both spouses by helping you evaluate and tackle the practical aspects of divorce before you file.
Assess Your Assets
If you are contemplating divorce, the best step you can take to protect your financial health is to inventory your financial data ahead of time to make sure you have account numbers, passwords, and statements for your accounts, including information on non-monetary assets such as business equipment or intellectual property. It is not uncommon for upset spouses to react emotionally and deny you access to financial documents, which not only makes the situation contentious and unpleasant but also prolongs the process. A divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA can advise you on the types of financial documentation you will need to gather and disclose.
Student Loan Debt
If you took out a student loan before you married, you will most likely only be responsible for your debt. In most cases, divorcing parties are not required to pay back a spouse’s debt incurred prior to marriage. If you anticipate that your income will be lower following the divorce, consider contacting your loan provider to discuss reducing your monthly payment.
If the student loan debt is incurred during the marriage, the situation could become complicated. Washington is one of only a few community property states, so separating couples may bear some responsibility for the opposing spouse’s student loan debt following a divorce. The experienced attorneys at Robinson & Hadeed Family Law can guide you through debt division concerns in community property states and work to help you attain financial harmony once the divorce is finalized.
Continued Financial Support
If you were not the primary income earner during your marriage, you may be entitled to spousal support, commonly known as alimony. Factors influencing the ability to receive support include:
- Length of marriage and employment status during the marriage
- Whether any children require full-time care
- Changes in a spouse’s employment status following divorce
Consulting a divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA can help you navigate spousal support arrangements, including the possibility of purchasing or amending insurance policies to provide continued support if unfortunate circumstances of disability or premature death. Your attorney will also help you understand the tax implications of spousal support.
Child Custody – The Basics
If you and your spouse share minor children, you and your child’s other parent will either need to come to an agreement as to your child custody division and (if applicable) parenting plan terms or a judge will need to intervene in order to settle your fundamental differences. Speaking with a divorce lawyer Gig Harbor, WA families trust as early as you can in the divorce process will help to ensure that your child custody considerations are approached as proactively as possible. This is important because there are scenarios wherein a child’s parents initially had hoped to keep things amicable but ended up having to navigate a “traditional courtroom” setting because they hadn’t sought legal guidance before their situation became too tense to navigate amicably.
Note that “child custody division” and “parenting plan” aspects of your situation both fall under the general child custody order ruling. Meaning, that these aspects are separate legal issues but—when taken together—make up a broader child custody order. Child custody division is the process of determining whether parents will split legal and physical custody of their child or one parent will have sole legal and/or physical custody of that child. Legal custody generally refers to the right to make major legal and medical decisions on a child’s behalf. Physical custody is the right to make most major decisions concerning where a child will reside.
Nowadays, American parents commonly split both physical and legal custody of their children. If one parent is granted sole custody in either context, the other parent may be granted “parenting time” (also known as visitation) rights. If you and your child’s other parent will be splitting custody or parenting time rights will be shared by both parents, the court will likely require you to create a parenting plan as part of your broader custody order.
Parenting Plan Considerations
A parenting plan is, essentially, a family’s co-parenting guidebook. If you and your child’s other parent already know how you want your co-parenting relationship to function, our Gig Harbor, WA divorce lawyer team can help you to clarify and formalize your arrangement. If you aren’t yet sure how the “ins and outs” of parenting from two different households is going to work practically, the experienced Washington legal team at Robinson & Hadeed can help you to draft a workable parenting plan that reflects your child’s best interests.
Your parenting plan can “cover” virtually any topic of your choosing. But, as it will be a legally enforceable document, you’ll want to choose your terms with care. For example, you can outline when your child will reside with each parent and how holidays will be divided. Outlining these expectations will help to hold everyone accountable to your mutual vision for how your co-parenting relationship will progress. However, our Gig Harbor, WA divorce lawyer team generally cautions against parenting plan terms that are unrealistic, hard to enforce, and/or will cause unnecessary tension. Your parenting plan should help to make your expectations and responsibilities clear without being so inflexibly structured that it creates challenges where none need to exist.
Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Through a Divorce
Do Find a Good Divorce Attorney
A good divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, is worth her weight in gold. You want an attorney who’s tough, but fair. One who can stand up for you and your rights without being overly aggressive. One who can keep the best interests of your children at the forefront of her mind.
Do Spend More Time With Your Kids
As the divorce proceeds, your kids’ worries are going to grow. Is it their fault mom and dad are splitting up? Did they do something wrong? If one parent winds up with sole custody, does that mean their other parent doesn’t love them any more? The more time you can spend with them, the more you can allay their fears and reassure them that they did nothing wrong.
Do Focus On Things You Agree On
Instead of constantly focusing on what you’re fighting about, focus on the areas where you agree. Start from that common ground and work your way out from there. Your divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, can help keep you on track through negotiations with your spouse or mediation.
Do Keep Yourself Busy
Don’t sit at home dwelling on your divorce. As much as you have to take care of your kids’ needs, you need to take care of your own, too. Take up a new hobby or make some new friends to spend time with. Anything to keep you from slipping into depression.
Don’t Lose Hope
No matter how bad things look, never lose hope. You’re not going to walk away with nothing, no matter how much your spouse may say you are. You’ve got a Robinson & Hadeed Family Law divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, in your corner.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Rampant
It would be easy to give in to depression, despair, anger, rage or other strong unpleasant emotions. Don’t let yourself go there. There are support groups out there for people going through a divorce. Your divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, may have a list of them for you to check out.
Don’t Resort to Insults and Name-calling
No matter how much you may want to, insulting and name-calling belongs to playground bullies, not adults involved in a legal proceeding. Your attorney at Robinson & Hadeed Family Law is someone you can vent to; otherwise, keep the insults to yourself.
Don’t Make Any Absolute Statements
Don’t start sentences with, “You always…” or, “You never…” because they’re rarely true. People rarely always or never do something. People may often do things. People may seldom do things. Always and never should not be involved while you try to divide assets, debts, child custody and child support.
4 Factors That Can Defuse High-Conflict Divorce
Constant arguments and frustrating legal issues can leave you feeling confused and tired during
a divorce. These problems can wear you down and make your daily life even more stressful than
you anticipated, leading to a lack of sleep or other health issues.
Learning how to deal with high-conflict divorces is one way to prevent further stress during this
1. Stay Professional
Steering the conversation away from touchy and personal topics can help you and your ex-
spouse stay calm and collected while talking. Instead of going into detail about how you feel, try
to simply state the facts of whatever information you need to communicate. Good communication
is also important if you are talking to a divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA.
It may help you to write what you plan to say in a text, since it gives you time to think over and
review the content of your message. If your ex-spouse tries to start a fight, then recognize that
your response can set the tone and end a disagreement before it begins.
2. Find Stress-Relieving Hobbies
After a while, you may notice you are not sleeping well or feel overwhelmed by the conflict you
are experiencing. One way to keep yourself centered and calm is to find a sport or other hobby
that you can do in your spare time.
This can keep your mind and body engaged while also giving you room in your daily life to relax.
You can also focus on finding a divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA like Robinson & Hadeed Family
3. Keep Others Out Of It
Involving your children or your extended family in your arguments will only lead to more stress
over time. Oversharing on social media can also lead to fights and disagreements between you
and your ex-spouse. The details should stay between you two and your divorce lawyer in Gig
4. Look To The Future
Staying stuck in the past and constantly bringing up old topics that you both fought over can leave
the tensions running high during a divorce. Instead of focusing on who should be blamed for an
issue, take a step back and look ahead.
Focus on where the next few months or years are going and what positive events you have to
look forward to instead of what lies behind. Discussing any matters with a divorce lawyer in Gig
Harbor, WA, like Robinson & Hadeed Family Law, may help you determine what to do next.
Legal Guidance Is Available
No matter which approach to divorce is right for you, the experienced Washington legal team at Robinson & Hadeed can help you to successfully navigate this process. Whether you hope to keep your split amicable or you anticipate that your property division and/or child custody matters will be contentious, our team has the experience, legal knowledge, dedication to our clients, and determination to build the strongest case possible on your behalf. It doesn’t matter if you’re ready to file for divorce, you’re thinking about securing a legal separation, or you’re responding to divorce papers that have already been filed – our Gig Harbor, WA divorce lawyer team is here to assist you.