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Frequently Asked Questions – Part 2

To continue from last week’s post, here are more questions frequently asked by Washington clients involved in family law cases:

  1. Am I allowed to move?

When an unmarried parent wants to move they have to consider how their move may impact their relationship with their child.  With that in mind, many unmarried parents come into our office wondering whether they are permitted to move.  The short answer is usually yes.  The longer (and more helpful answer) is that it depends.  When we say that people can move, we mean that they do have the right to move.  What they may not have the right to do is move their children.  In general, if an unmarried parent wants to move within the child’s current school district, it will not be a problem and they are free to do so.   However, if the move is outside the child’s school district boundaries, the move should be discussed with a family law attorney.  In these cases some parents may be required to provide more formal notice, and may end up needing to go to court to ask the court to permit them to move with their children. 

  1. How much child support should I expect to receive or pay?

Child support is an important issue in many family law cases involving children.  The basic calculation is based on both parent’s income and how many children the parents have.  In addition, it takes into account other extenuating circumstances like other sources of income, children from other relationships, special needs of a child and other factors related to the financial circumstances of the parents.  If one parent is not working, or not working fulltime, at the time of the child support calculation an income will be imputed to them.  This amount may be based on past earnings or the average wage of someone of similar age and experience.  After incomes are determined, the level of income is applied to the Washington State Child Support Tables.  After the amount that the parties together should pay for the child, this amount is multiplied by the percentage of income each parent contributes to the combined income of the parties.  The answer to this will give the basic child support obligation of each parent.  (This explanation is over-simplified: the court also considers extenuating circumstances in many cases, and our explanation does not take into account the number of children or age of children [both of which impact child support], but we hope it provides a basic idea of how child support is calculated.)

  1. How much does it cost to hire a family law attorney?

Cost depends on the complexity of the issues, whether the parties are able to negotiate, whether either party owns their own business, the amount and type of property involved, and whether there are any children involved.  As you can imagine the more complex and contentious a family law case is the more it is likely to cost.

This is one FAQ that is difficult to answer without having information specific to the parties and their families.  That said, we do encourage people in family law cases to ask about the cost of being represented at their first meeting with an attorney.  Attorneys should be able to give you some idea of how much a case of your type will cost assuming no major roadblocks come up along the way.  If your attorney’s estimated costs are too high for your budget, you might consider discussing an alternative to full representation.  In some cases you might be able to work through most of the agreements regarding parenting and or property with your spouse and only use an attorney to review the final orders you have agreed to, advise you on the potential consequences of the agreement, and finally, to draft it into the legal language to make sure your agreement is effectively drafted into your final orders.  In other cases, you may want an attorney to represent you only in the parenting plan portion (or exclusively in the financial matters) and agree to all other issues between parties.  When hiring an attorney for full representation is out of your financial reach, consider prioritizing the most important areas of focus and hire an attorney for that area only.

While we hope these FAQs have been helpful, it is important that you speak with an experienced family law attorney about your specific family law questions.  We would be honored if you choose to contact us.