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Do I need a lawyer to review my divorce papers?

Puyallup, WA |

When we got divorced in 2006, our assets were split 50/50. However, I allowed my spouse to remain in our home for 5 years before having to settle with me on my percentage of the home. He is now ready to sell, but says that property values have dropped, so he owes me nothing. Our divorce papers did not address the issue of property decreasing in value, only the share percentage.

I'm very confused on this. I need to act quickly, but I cannot afford a lawyer. Any help would be so appreciated.

Thank you.

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Attorney answers 4


There is not enough information here to give you an answer. A lot depends on what the property settlement says. An attorney can review your documents and advise you on what your best course of action is. I suggest you consult with an attorney right away.


It is a small investment to have an attorney review your final dissolution papers. You may have overlooked some things that a trained professional will be able to bring to your attention or to make recommendations you may not have considered. By paying for an attorney, you are gaining peace of mind that once your papers are filed with the court, you know you have had a second set of eyes looking out for an errors or omissions.

Advice is only given and does not create an attorney/client relationship. Please be aware that I have not had the opportunity to review any matters on your case and am only providing a response to the question posted.


I really cannot answer this without first reviewing your divorce papers.

IF YOU FOUND THIS ANSWER HELPFUL PLEASE MARK IT SO. This information is provided by PEGGY M. RADDATZ, Attorney At Law as a pro bono service. YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY IN PERSON who has specific expertise in the area of law you are asking about.


Unfortunately, this has been a common problem with our economy. It also points to the problem of not getting sound legal advice BEFORE you finalized your divorce in 2006. If you had a fixed amount with interest accruing and other protections, you might have gotten what you thought when you signed the Decree. I understand why you might have thought like the rest of us that home prices would only go up, so it could have been a great investment.

If he is holding firm on not paying you, you should pay for a little time with an attorney to review the language of the Decree to see if it means what you thinks it does. It may be exactly what you think: You get half of the equity in the home whenever its sells. If it is zero, you get zero. You may have an argument that you should get half of the equity existing at the time the Decree was entered (unlikely).

Now, you may want to make sure the sale is to an independant third party, not his buddy, and that there are no side deals designed to eliminate any payment to you - get closing documents and review them before signing. Are you still on the title (did not quit claim) and therefore have to sign for any sale? You may want to get an appraisal or have a realtor or friend find some comparables to see if the house is being sold for a reasonable price.

However, if the Decree says you get half of the equity whenever it is sold and he's selling for a reasonable price, you are probably out of luck. You may also see if he's current in the mortgage payments under the Decree to see if you might be able to argue he did not pay enough and there would be more equity if he had.

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