Ending a marriage is never easy, but a thoughtful approach can help make the process less stressful. If you’re planning to file for divorce in Kennewick or the surrounding Tri-Cities area, there are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
Do Consult an Attorney Early On
Meeting with a divorce attorney in Kennewick should be one of the first things you do when considering divorce. An experienced attorney can explain your options, rights, and obligations under Washington state law while giving you clear, personalized advice on the smartest next steps for your situation. They can also discuss ways to amicably settle matters like asset division when possible to avoid prolonged conflict. Don’t wait until tensions have escalated and positions have hardened—early legal advice can save you money and heartache down the road.
- Ask about costs and billing arrangements upfront
- Interview a few attorneys before selecting one
- Seek referrals from trusted friends/family who have gone through divorce
Don’t Try DIY Divorce
It may be tempting to try handling divorce yourself without legal counsel to save on attorney fees. But divorce laws are highly complex, with many procedural pitfalls. The emotional stakes during separation and divorce are also extremely high. Having an experienced divorce attorney guide you through the process efficiently can make all the difference while ensuring your interests are fully protected under the law. The investment in proper legal representation will be well worth it compared to the risks and costs of mistakes trying to DIY divorce.
- Online divorce services have limitations
- DIY forms may not address WA-specific laws
- Attorney expertise avoids costly errors
Do Discuss Separation First
In some circumstances, agreeing to a trial separation for a set period of time (i.e., 3-6 months) may be worth considering before going straight to divorce filings. This cooling-off time can provide valuable space to calmly reflect on the future, attend counseling or mediation if desired, and establish constructive co-parenting habits. Reconciliation may even result if both partners ultimately wish it. If you do decide divorce is unavoidable after separating, then at least you’ve tested the waters first.
- Can provide closure if divorce is inevitable
- Allows time to untangle finances if needed
- Lets you adjust to living independently
Don’t Vent on Social Media
Resist the temptation to vent anger or grievances about your spouse on social media during a separation or pending divorce. These types of emotional posts almost always backfire legally. Even if set to “private”, your spouse’s divorce attorney can request those posts. Any negativity you share online can and likely will be used against you. Always take the high road online and avoid oversharing details publicly. You’ll have your day in court to be heard; don’t jeopardize it.
- Online posts can impact custody cases
- Oversharing complicates mediation efforts
- Take healthy routes to process emotions
Do Be Kind With Shared Connections
Avoid bad-mouthing your spouse or trying to turn friends against them. The people closest to you generally don’t want to choose sides. Shared connections will respect you keeping things classy and contained more than lashing out emotionally. Don’t give the divorce gossip mill extra fodder. Focus conversations on your own feelings and plans moving forward.
- You may reconcile with mutual friends later
- Avoid using kids as messengers
- Rise above the difficulties during legal proceedings
Do Be Upfront With Children
If you have children, have age-appropriate conversations together about changes to the family situation early on. Avoid saying negative things about the other parent. If there is already a pending divorce case do not discuss the case with the children. What children need most is stability, reassurance, and empathy. Many parents underestimate just how much children already sense. Validate their emotions and allow counseling to help them process the transition in a healthy way.
- Consider professional counseling/therapy
- Make time for fun activities together
- Encourage them that everything will be alright
Don’t Hide Marital Assets
Failing to fully disclose all assets, debts, investments, and other financial ties during divorce proceedings is not just unethical, but illegal. Any attempts to hide or diminish the visibility of marital property typically lead to unfavorable outcomes. Transparency is key. Being upfront from the start about all property and obligations allows for a fair, clean split without future allegations of deception.
- Courts can award hidden assets to your spouse
- Come clean early to avoid penalties
- Work with an attorney and mediator openly
Do Weigh Creative Custody Options
When creating a parenting plan, think creatively about child custody and placement schedules that serve your unique situation. There are many different custody options to consider beyond just “every other weekend”—for example, alternating weeks, 2-2-3 days rotation, split weeks, summertime variations, and more. Discuss your goals and needs with your attorney to develop a custody plan tailored to your family and children’s well-being.
- Consider school schedules
- Factor in children’s ages and needs
- Build in flexibility for adjustments over time
Don’t Make Rash Financial Moves
Be cautious with large financial decisions during a separation or pending divorce. Don’t liquidate assets, open/close accounts, accumulate debt, or make major purchases or investments that involve marital property without understanding the legal and tax implications. Consult your attorney before any big spending. Courts will scrutinize suspicious transactions. Protect yourself now to avoid problems later.
- Notify your spouse if relocating bank accounts
- Don’t make big credit card purchases
- Hold off on selling real estate or valuables
Do Educate Yourself on Divorce Laws
Study the Washington state divorce laws regarding asset division, spousal maintenance, child support, and other aspects relevant to your situation. For example, WA is a “community property” state, meaning most marital assets are divided equitably. Knowing the legal landscape will empower you to make smart choices during settlement negotiations. Discuss customized options with your attorney.
- Review tax implications of asset splits
- Understand how debts and property are classified
- Research guidelines for child custody factors
Don’t Set Unrealistic Expectations for a Resolution
The divorce process rarely wraps up quickly, usually taking 9 months or more from the filing date to the final decree. Custody disputes, financial untangling, mandatory waiting periods, and court backlogs often extend timelines. While delays are frustrating, a good divorce attorney will persist and keep pressing your case forward through the system properly. Stay patient, remember that it takes time, and avoid unrealistic expectations.
- Emotions and stress can prolong the process
- Be prepared for multiple court appearances
- Lean on your support system for strength
Going through a divorce can be an emotionally and logistically challenging experience. However, having the right guidance from a caring, experienced divorce attorney can ease your burden substantially. At Betancourt Law, our compassionate family law professionals have helped many clients navigate this difficult transition successfully. If you’re exploring divorce, contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation and options. We’re here to provide caring counsel every step of the way.