Articles Posted in Divorce

Emotions run high during divorce, and sometimes unfortunately the parties will try to hurt each other.  When a party to a divorce intentionally damages property or wastes the couple’s assets, the other party may seek a remedy through the court. In the recent case of In re Marriage of Fellows, a Washington appeals court reviewed an order for contempt of court against a wife who allegedly damaged the couple’s home.

The wife, Michaela, appealed the order finding her in contempt of court for violating the dissolution decree.  The trial court found that she had intentionally violated its order by damaging the couple’s home.

The decree awarded the home to the husband, Charles, but allowed the wife to remain there for another 60 days.  At the request of the husband’s counsel, the court ruled the home was to be maintained in the condition it was in.  When presenting its written ruling, the court also instructed the wife not to damage the home in any way, and it noted that if damage did occur, the court would consider contempt and address the damage.

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High-asset divorces are very complex and difficult matters.  It is not uncommon for one party to allege the other has either wasted or hidden assets.  Additionally, the standard calculation may not be an equitable way to determine the appropriate amount of support, so the court has some discretion to deviate from the standard if it considers the appropriate factors and makes findings of fact.

A Washington appeals court recently considered waste, separate property, and a possible deviation from the standard distribution calculation in In re Marriage of Hansen. The couple married in 2001, and the decree was issued in 2015.  The couple had two children.  The husband owned and operated a bail bond company, which was the couple’s primary source of income.  The wife did not work outside the home and had been financially dependent on her husband well before the marriage.

In 2013, the husband purchased another bail bond company, for which he paid partially with funds from shared retirement accounts.  The couple incurred early withdrawal fees and taxes of more than $120,000.

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Everyone can relate to the experience of walking into the grocery store without a shopping list and leaving the store without what you went in for, having spent lots of money on things you didn’t need.  Notes aren’t only important for grocery shopping.  They can help keep meetings on task, organized, and efficient.  That is why we recommend that people bring notes into their first meeting with a family law attorney.  One sheet of paper is probably enough for your first meeting.  The paper should include the following: Continue reading

Myth 1:

You don’t have to pay child support if you have a 50/50 parenting plan.

Fact:  While it is true that in some cases with 50/50 parenting plans there will be no transfer payment of child support from one parent to the other, in many 50/50 cases, especially those where the parents’ incomes are very different, one parent may still have to pay money to the other parent for the support of the child.

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Washington family law clients and attorneys alike should know that there are changes coming to the Washington State Family Law Forms.  The revised forms will become required on May 1, 2016, but they are available now on the Washington Courts Website for review and preparation for adoption.

The forms are called “Plain Language” forms and are meant to be easier to read and understated.  From our review, many of the forms are easier to read and understand.  This will benefit pro se litigants (those people that are not being assisted by a family law attorney).  It will also benefit people that have attorneys, because they won’t have to waste their valuable time having the complicated forms explained, and, instead, will be able to spend their time telling their family law attorney about the facts of their case and giving the attorney time to discuss strategy and the best way to move forward.  It will also benefit people that are represented by an attorney, but are opposing a party that is pro se.  These pro se opposing parties sometimes make claims that they did not understand the online forms and as such should not be held to what they agreed to therein.  The Plain Language forms will be easier to understand and thus, if someone signs these documents the courts will probably be less likely to believe that a party did not understand what they were signing.   Continue reading

Dissolving a marriage can be difficult even in relatively simple, straight-forward circumstances.  Things can become much more difficult in divorces that involve a business owned by one or both spouses.  The end of a marriage can also mean the end of the business.  Ending the business is not always in the best interest of the divorcing parties.  Below are a few issues for consideration by parties seeking to dissolve their marriage in Washington, when one or both spouses own a business. Continue reading

For many families the spring is an exciting time.   During spring, the weather gets warmer, the flowers bloom, the baseball season begins, and families plan for their summer vacations.  For families whose children’s residential time is split between two unmarried parents, it is also often a time that the parenting plan requires parents to swap summer schedules.  In many plans both parents submit their desired summer schedules and one parent has the prevailing preference for each year.  Here are a few ideas that some families have found helpful when addressing notice for summer vacation schedules: Continue reading

As many parents of adult children know, most children do not stop needing support (financial, mental, and emotional) when they turn eighteen or graduate from high school.  Providing continued emotional or mental support is usually not a point of contention between parents.  Whether to provide financial support can be a different story.  When the parents of adult children are still married at the time the child reaches the age of majority, the parents usually decide together how much longer they will offer housing, pay for college, and otherwise financially support the child.  When the parents are not married at the time the child turns eighteen or graduates (and the current child support order ends), there are often questions about whether to provide support (and how much support) for the adult child.  There is also the question of who should contribute to the support.

Sometimes, unmarried parents request that the court determine whether and how much postsecondary support should be provided to the child.  A parent must request postsecondary education contribution from the other parent prior to the current child support order ending (usually eighteen or when the child graduates from high school).  If a request is made through court action, the court may decide to award post-secondary support, but it is not mandatory.

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In King County, Local Rule 13 requires parents of minor children (kids under 18) involved in many types of family law cases to attend a parenting seminar during the sixty days following the filing of a petition.  As this is a part of many of the cases we handle at Blair & Kim, we hope to provide some information related to this seminar. Continue reading

Family law clients are often surprised to hear that family law attorneys actually prefer to litigate or negotiate with a represented other party as opposed to a pro se other party (a.k.a. unrepresented party).  This article discusses some of the potential pitfalls of working with unrepresented parties.  Most of the pitfalls contribute to these types of cases taking more client and attorney resources than cases where both parties are represented.

Most of the time, pro se parties do not know all of the rules and procedures for this type of case.  It is difficult to work with someone who does not know the court rules, applicable laws, and strict timelines that are part of our daily work as family law attorneys.  Sometimes, we deal with pro se opposing parties that do not turn things in on time or otherwise confuse court rules and are given a pass by the commissioner or judge because they are pro se.  This is frustrating to clients and attorneys alike.   Continue reading