As two parents in Washington work to end their marriage, they will be asked to create a parenting plan. That plan will be the guide by which the individuals will co-parent their shared children and the agreement that binds them to provide specific support and care. Traditional notions of child custody are encompassed into the parenting plan.
Most divorcing couples in the state of Washington do not have significant assets apart from their house, joint savings and retirement accounts and pension plans. When a couple gets divorced, the court will divide these assets between the two spouses. Dividing retirement and pension plans can be complicated, and a legal device known as a "Qualified Domestic Relations Order" (QDRO) has been created to ease the division process.
When a couple with minor children seek a divorce in Washington state, one of their earliest questions concerns child support. Who will pay? How much? How frequently? The specific answers depend upon the financial circumstances of the divorcing couple.
Many divorcing couples in Washington wonder about many subjects, but most often, the subject of spousal maintenance or alimony generates the most anxiety. A former spouse who is ordered to pay alimony may worry about the effect of such payments on his or her financial stability. The spouse who receives alimony often feels that the award was insufficient. Understanding the legal rules that govern awards of maintenance can help both spouses accept the court's order.
Courts in Washington are required to make many decisions involving the future welfare of children whose parents are no longer, or never were, married. One of the bedrock concepts in Washington family law underlies all of these decisions: the best interests of the child. An understanding of this concept is essential for parents who no longer reside with the other parent of their children.
Prenuptial agreements have become more frequent in the last twenty years, and many engaged couples wonder if such agreements are enforceable in Washington and if they should sign one. The answer to both questions is "It depends." Premarital agreements are enforceable if they meet certain standards laid down by the state's appellate courts, and the advisability of entering into such an agreement depends upon the financial circumstances of the marrying couple.
For most Vancouver couples who decide to end their marriages, the divorce process can be stressful and emotionally painful. One method for reducing the stress and emotion in a divorce is the use of divorce mediation. Mediation is a process of dispute resolution that has been used in Washington courtroom proceedings since passage of the 1984 Court Improvement Act. While not limited to divorces, mediation is especially useful in resolving the anger-laden disputes that are common in divorce proceedings.
In any divorce involving minor children, financial support for the children is likely to be one of the most contentious issues. If the spouses cannot agree on the amount and frequency of child support payments, the judge will issue an order resolving the dispute. While an initial order may work out for a while, sometimes a person's life circumstances change. So, what happens when one or both parties in Washington want to modify an existing child support order?
When a couple decides to end their marriage, one of the critical questions they face is how to divide their property. Washington is one of the few remaining states that classify property as either community property or separate property. Understanding the definitions of both kinds of property and the effect of the state's community property law may require the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney.
We want to thank William Gellatly for his kind words to our Associate Attorney, Crystal Lewis, and for allowing us to share them with others. It's always nice to hear when we've done a good job!