Many men and women of long-term marriages come into my office after their spouse asks for a divorce feeling as if it is their fault that their marriage is dissolving. They express to me that they could have done this better, or done that more efficiently. One woman told me that she would still be married “if I didn’t focus so much on my children.”
Divorce is an emotional time. Someplace all the blame of a divorce on themselves and when they find themselves in court, they feel as though they deserve very little from their husband, or on the other hand give everything to the wife that she is asking for.
But the fact is that both parties contributed to the marriage and both parties deserve their fair share of what they earned. As a Divorce Attorney in Marysville, Washington, I pride myself in instilling confidence in my clients that they deserve to live comfortably after divorce. So what should you ask for in your divorce?
The Marital Home
The marital home is community property that is shared between both spouses. Regardless of whether you personally never made the mortgage payments, your name wasn’t on the deed or the mortgage, or whether your spouse already “kicked you out,” you have a right and interest in the home or the value of the home. Don’t assume that you have no rights in the house just because you already told your spouse that he or she could have it. A home is one of the most precious of belongings, and you deserve to benefit from a place you spent so much time in.
Pension Accounts and Retirement 401k Accounts
Financial accounts come with so many different names. I have plenty of clients who report to me that they have no idea what accounts their spouse opened or has from work. Many of us just don’t keep track of how much money is coming out of our paychecks toward this. Because I work with so many clients who work for Boeing or other large corporation, I am well-aware of these accounts and how to find them. Just because you did not pay into an account does not mean you shouldn’t benefit from an account your spouse paid into. After all, you may have taken care of the children, made meals, taxied kids and spouses to activities, and ran errands for your spouse. This entitles you to a portion of the retirement. You worked for that retirement, too.
Personal Belongings, Guns, Jewelry
“What will I do with his gun?” I hear this all the time. There are some items that are very personal to one spouse or the other, but that was purchased using the marital funds. There may be instances where one item, piece of jewelry, gun, rare coin, power tools or another collectible is worth a lot of money. During a divorce, it is important to take an inventory of these items and properly value them so that each party is properly compensated in a divorce.
Stocks, Bonds, and Accounts
It is impossible for you to make a settlement agreement with your spouse until you have all the information. Your spouse may offer to end things “quickly” or “painlessly” if you just sign the agreement. He or She may offer you something that you believe has great value if you agree to sign—but how are you to know what is a fair deal unless you know what you may be missing? Often times, one party has a portfolio of stocks and bonds and they know their spouse does not know the value.
You may not realize that you are on a credit card with your spouse that he or she will never pay for. This may destroy your credit and not allow you to qualify for housing in the future. It is important for you to know what community debts you have before you finalize your divorce. Otherwise, you could be left with little money and loads of debt.
I have specialized in divorce and child custody cases for over 20 years. I work hard for my clients, men and women alike, get what they deserve in their divorce.