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In a Washington divorce, parents generally cannot escape child support obligations by being voluntarily underemployed.  If the court finds the parent is underemployed for the purpose of reducing the child support obligation, the court can calculate child support based on imputed income.  A Washington court recently considered whether a father was subject to imputed income because he stopped working overtime after the separation.

boatIn her motion for child support, the wife alleged the husband was voluntarily underemployed.  The trial court entered a child support order, imputing income to the husband based on past earnings.  The husband appealed.

The husband argued the court erred in finding him voluntarily underemployed and in imputing his income. The husband owns and operates a commercial harvest diving business. He previously owned and operated as many as four commercial dive boats and worked as boat captain and diver until about six months before the separation.  He stated he had previously worked over 80 hours per week and worked out of town for weeks at a time.  He claimed he had been able to work so much during the marriage because the wife had been a stay-at-home mother and homemaker.  He argued he was unable to maintain that schedule and care for his children on the shared schedule.  His salary dropped from $146,884 in 2015 to $93,094 in 2016.

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In Washington domestic violence cases, the prosecution or defense may want to present evidence of what one of the involved parties said about the events.  Hearsay evidence is generally not allowed, so such statements must fall within an exception to the hearsay rule to be admissible.   A Washington appeals court recently considered whether a victim’s statement to a police officer was appropriately admitted into evidence.

carThe couple lived together in the woman’s home at the time of the incident.  They got into an argument and the woman reached to take back a cell phone she had given the defendant.  According to the court’s opinion, the defendant wrapped his arm around her neck and strangled her for about 10 seconds.

The woman called 911.  When the deputies arrived, the woman described these events to one of them.

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In Washington, drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury must stop at the scene and remain there to give their name, address, insurance information and vehicle license number to the other driver, passengers or anyone who was struck or injured.  Pursuant to RCW 46.52.020, drivers must also show their driver’s license.  They must provide assistance to anyone injured, including getting them to medical treatment.  What happens, though, if a driver is shaken up and fails to provide all of the required information? A Washington appeals court recently considered whether a case could proceed when the plaintiff originally filed suit against the wrong party after not receiving all of the other driver’s identifying information.

wreckThe plaintiff was rear-ended.  She stated the other driver was very upset after the collision and insisted they not call the police or an ambulance.  The plaintiff stated that they exchanged insurance cards and wrote down each other’s information.  She stated the other driver did not offer her a driver’s license or state her name.  She believed the other driver’s name was the name on the insurance card.  In fact, the person named on the card was the other driver’s mother.

The plaintiff filed suit against the person named on the insurance card on the last day before the statute of limitations expired.  The defendant answered, stating the plaintiff had sued the wrong defendant.  The plaintiff amended the complaint to add the driver as a defendant more than two months after the statute of limitations expired.

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Sometimes in a Washington child support case, a parent may seek credit for expenses during their residential time or a modification of the custody arrangement in an effort to reduce child support payments.  However, the parent must show adequate cause to modify the parenting plan to change the custody arrangement.  A Washington appeals court recently considered a husband’s efforts to reduce his child support obligation.

swingThe parties divorced after approximately 11 years of marriage.  The agreed parenting plan allowed equal residential time with the two children, and other agreed orders required the husband to pay $1,700 in child support and $900 in maintenance each month.

In 2012, the husband moved to adjust child support due to the child care expenses he paid while he had the kids.  The court denied the motion, noting a residential credit could not be considered in a motion for adjustment but should instead be raised in a petition to modify.  A couple of months later, the husband filed a petition to modify the child support.  The court found he failed to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances and denied the petition.  It also awarded the wife attorney’s fees and costs.

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The state can get a conviction in a Washington domestic violence case even when the alleged victim does not testify.  In such cases, it is very important for the defendant to fight the admission of other improper evidence that may be harmful to the defense.  In a recent case, a defendant was convicted of second degree assault and 13 counts of violation of a domestic violence no-contact order despite the fact his wife failed to appear to testify.

phoneA woman called her daughter and told her she had been in an altercation with her husband and he had choked her.  The woman then drove to her daughter’s home in Idaho.  The woman said she was afraid of her husband.  The daughter saw marks on her mother’s face and neck and asked if she should call the police.

When the officer arrived, he observed injuries consistent with strangulation.  The woman told the officer she did not feel safe in her home where the incident occurred.  The officer contacted the local authorities in Washington and an Asotin County detective came to the daughter’s home.  The detective also noticed injuries consistent with strangulation and took photos to document them.

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Both the U.S. and Washington Constitutions prohibit warrantless seizures, unless the state can show an exception applies.  Washington criminal defense attorneys know that one such exception is the Terry stop.  An officer may briefly detain an individual if he or she has a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on specific and articulable facts the officer knows at the time of the stop.  If the activity is consistent with criminal activity, it may justify a brief detention, even if it is also consistent with activity that is not criminal.

electricityA Washington defendant recently challenged her convictions on the ground that the stop was unlawful.  After being notified of unauthorized vehicles in his driveway, a man returned home to find he had been burglarized.  He reported unauthorized vehicles in his driveway, and two men were arrested.  He subsequently found another vehicle on the private road to his house and again called the police.  The deputy who responded stopped a vehicle that appeared to be leaving the remote road.  The deputy stated the vehicle was “loaded with goods,” so he asked the driver to exit the vehicle.  He handcuffed her and put her in the back of his vehicle.

The property owner identified some fluorescent light bulbs in the vehicle as belonging to him.  When asked why she was there, the defendant told the deputy she needed to urinate.  She was arrested, and officers found a baggie in her jacket that contained a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine.  She was charged with burglary in the second degree and possession of a controlled substance—methamphetamine.

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A homeowner or resident may consent to police searching the home.  Washington drug crime attorneys know that a homeowner or resident’s consent can affect others in the home.  In a recent case, a defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop following a search of an apartment.

The police found the defendant in a woman’s apartment during a welcomeprotective sweep in response to a report of an assault and robbery in the apartment by the defendant and two others.

The defendant appealed, arguing the sweep exceeded the scope of the “protective sweep” exception to the warrant requirement.

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Romantic and familial relationships can grow contentious and sometimes become violent.  Sometimes relationships can become so contentious that one party seeks to have a court intervene and issue a civil protection order to prevent the other party from contacting them or engaging in other activities.  Washington civil protection order attorneys know that a victim does not have to wait until they are seriously injured to seek a civil protection order.  In some cases, a court may issue a civil protection order even if there has not been a physical assault, as seen in one recent case.

gavelThe former husband appealed a domestic violence protection order (DVPO) issued in favor of his ex-wife.  In her petition, the ex-wife stated her ex-husband had violated the no-contact order entered after the divorce.  She stated that he had threatened to kill her when she filed the protection order and that he had threatened her many times.  She stated he had told her she could either be with him, or he would keep harassing her.  She alleged he had a history of both suicidal and violent behaviors.  The court granted her a temporary order and scheduled a hearing.

At the hearing, the ex-wife testified that she was afraid for her safety.  She said she wanted the DVPO because the restraining order that was already in place was not working.  The ex-husband also testified at the hearing and either denied or tried to explain the allegations.

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Many people think that a landowner is responsible for injuries that occur upon his or her property.  Landowners are often liable, but Washington premises liability attorneys know that it is the possessor of the land who generally has responsibility for the condition of the premises.  This means that a tenant, rather than the landowner, may have responsibility for the conditions of the property, as seen in a recent case.

deckThe plaintiff was leaving her boyfriend’s home when she realized she forgot something.  When she stepped on the step leading up to the deck, it broke.  She was injured when her foot went through the broken board.

The property was a single family residence, but there was a mother-in-law unit with a separate entry and its own backyard and patio.  The plaintiff’s boyfriend rented the main unit, and other tenants rented the mother-in-law unit on a separate lease.  There was a shared carport area, but the deck where the plaintiff fell was attached to the main house and was for use only by the tenants of the main house.

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When Washington car accident victims apply for no-fault benefits from their own insurer, they may not consider that the information contained in the application could affect their claim against the at-fault driver.  In a recent case, however, the information in the application played a significant role at trial.

bicycleThis case involved an eight-year-old boy who was struck by a van.  The defendant stopped and got out of her van when she heard a noise and felt the van jump.  An eight-year-old boy was lying on the ground near a pickup truck.  The van had run over one of his legs.

At issue in the appeal was the admissibility of an application for no-fault benefits.  The boy’s mother speaks only Spanish.  A law firm helped her apply.  She signed a blank application for PIP benefits, and a legal assistant filled it in later.  The legal assistant used the police report in completing the form and wrote that a “child on a bike rode into the road…”

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