Most people that hire attorneys to represent them are concerned about how much they will be spending on their attorney and other court fees. While good representation is invaluable when so much is at stake, there are ways that you can reduce your legal costs without sacrificing having the best representation possible. Here are some ideas we have for our family law clients: Continue reading
Parenting plans are often drafted while both parents are single (or on their way to being single). As they negotiate their plan, the parents consider their lives as single parents. They want to discuss how much time they will have with their kids, and what holidays they will not have their kids. One issue that few parents bring up is how to address the other parents’ new significant others. Once they start thinking about it they usually have two concerns: (1) parents often worry about their kids being introduced to the other parent’s significant other too soon, and thus experiencing a revolving door of significant others, or (2) parents worry that the children will now spend all their time with the new significant other, rather than their parent. Here are two ways that some parents choose to address their concerns:
Right of First Refusal: This is a potential way to limit the time the children may spend with the parent’s significant other (or anyone else other than the parent for that matter). This is usually accomplished by including a clause within the parenting plan that requires that if the children are to be with someone other than the parents (or another agreed upon adult) the parent not scheduled to have time with the child shall have the right to choose to have the kids with them, or may refuse that time and the kids may go to someone else of the residential parent’s choice (in the present example, his or her significant other).
Limitations on Introductions: Parents can choose to set limitations within the parenting plan as to when significant others may be introduced to the children. They may say that the parent must have known or dated the person for a certain length of time prior to meeting the kids.
When people are embroiled in family law cases, being nice is often not their first priority. Instead, people often want to even the score with the opposing party. While the urge to punish the other party for their wrongdoings may be warranted, it is almost always not in your best interest to do so. Here are a few reasons we encourage our clients to be nice:
- Your Kids: Kids watch what we do more than we think. This is especially true when they feel unsure about their future. They may look to you for how the future is going to be for them. Showing them examples of contempt and discord will make them think that that is what their future will amount to.
- Your Health and Well-being: Let your lawyer do the arguing on your behalf. Avoid unnecessary confrontation and the stress that comes with it. Don’t fill your time thinking about revenge and getting even. Instead, focus your energy on things that make you feel happy and healthy.
People from all walks of life have criminal records. Some people have had a DUI. Others have had convictions for assault or theft. When these people get divorced, many of them wonder how their criminal record will impact their dissolution proceedings. Unfortunately, for purposes of this blog post the answer has to be that it depends. There are many circumstances that can impact how much weight and consideration the court will give a previous violation of the law when deciding on family law issues. Here are a few ways that your criminal record may affect your family law proceedings. As with all legal issues on this blog, it is best to speak with an attorney that knows the details of your case about how your criminal record may impact your dissolution proceedings.
- Parenting Plan: If you have children, it becomes much more likely that the court will consider more seriously your criminal record. If your spouse is claiming that you are an alcoholic, the court will take a keen interest in your past alcohol offenses. If your spouse claims you are violent, the court will look at offenses involving violence with special interest. It likely goes without saying that criminal convictions involving children will likely be given the most attention.
- Restraining Orders: If your spouse is requesting a restraining order, and you have a criminal history that includes assault or other domestic violence crimes, it is likely the court will take these into consideration when deciding whether or not to grant a restraining order to your spouse.
For many unmarried parents, the most difficult part of sharing residential time with their child’s other parent is the holidays spent away from their children. While you may not be able to celebrate with trick-or-treating, there are other things you can do to make the Halloween season special. Here are some ideas for celebrating Halloween when you won’t be with your children on the evening of October 31st:
- Make a special event out of decorating for Halloween. Make a special Halloween-inspired dinner.
- Take your kids to Great Wolf Lodge, or another place that has a month-long Halloween celebration.
- If your work offers a Halloween celebration for kids on a day other than the 31st, see if you can arrange (with the child’s other parent) bringing your child to your work-sponsored event.
- Let your child dress up in their costume on another day in October and bring them trick-or-treating at family members or friends’ homes (warn friends and family in advance so they are prepared).
- Watch a fun Halloween movie with your kids – costumes optional.
- Throw a kids Halloween party while you have your child.
While you will probably still miss your kids on October 31st, these ideas can help you and your kids celebrate the season in a fun and special way.
If you have any questions about your parenting plan, holiday schedule, or other family law questions. Please contact us.
The divorce process affects many parts of your life. Some of the ways divorce affects your life are obvious: divorce can affect your relationship with your children, your relationship with your in-laws, your financial circumstances, and a myriad of other areas of your life. Some of the ways divorce will affect your life are less obvious. One example of a less obvious affect your divorce may have is the way it can affect your will and other estate planning documents.
RCW 11.12.051 is the law that invalidates portions of the will that benefit a spouse after the marriage is terminated (unless you explicitly express other intentions). This means that if your will is written to make your former spouse a beneficiary upon your death, they will no longer receive this benefit. Instead, the gift to that person will lapse as if your spouse had predeceased you. In some cases (especially when the person had a secondary beneficiary in the case that the spouse predeceased the testator), this result is not far from what the testator intended. However, in other circumstances, it is far from what the spouse intended. Either way, it is important that you update to will to clarify your post-divorce wishes.
In many cases, beneficiaries of nonprobate assets will also be affected by the termination of a marriage. According to RCW 11.07.010, if a couple divorces, most nonprobate assets will not pass to the former spouse even if that spouse is still the named beneficiary. There are exceptions to this rule however. These exceptions include nonprobate assets that expressly state that the termination of a marriage will not terminate the beneficiary status of the former spouse and cases where the decree of dissolution requires that nonprobate assets be maintained with the former spouse as beneficiary.
Many family law clients seeking divorce have spouses that have already agreed that the marriage is over. However, in some cases there is one spouse who isn’t ready to end the relationship. In these cases, the spouse that is prepared to divorce is often concerned about what happens when the other spouse tries to stop the divorce. In some cases, the responding (non-petitioning) party ends up agreeing that divorce is imminent after the petition is filed, but sometimes the responding party remains steadfast.
If the responding party argues that the marriage is not irretrievably broken, the court may (after a review of the relevant circumstances) order the parties to participate in counseling. RCW 26.09.030. Then, if the parties reconcile the petition for dissolution is dismissed. If the parties do not reconcile, the court will enter a decree of dissolution regardless of the other party’s dissent.
However, while your spouse will not be able to stop you from getting divorced, they can slow the process down. The dissolution process can be slowed by failing to agree on reasonable terms, requesting unnecessary discovery, and by arguing for continuances (among other things). It is important to tell your lawyer that the other party may be dragging his or her feet in the litigation process. Your lawyer may advise taking actions against the other party for unnecessary delays.
There are people who walk away from a family law trial or hearing feeling like justice was not done. They may feel like the judge was unfairly biased, that the other party was awarded too much money, or that the order makes for an otherwise unworkable result. In these circumstances, people are often wondering what their options are. There are a few ways to appeal a family law decision. One option is to ask the courts to reconsider its decision. Another is to ask for a revision. There are other methods to seek a change to orders that may be used in certain circumstances. Regardless of what type of appeal you are considering, it is usually a good idea to think about the following:
1. Timing. There are limitations on when motions for appeals may be brought. It is important that your appeal is filed prior to the deadline. If you do not appeal in a timely fashion you will lose your opportunity to do so.
2. Cost. There are times that the cost of appealing a court order is not worth the benefit you would receive from successfully doing so. If there would be significant legal costs associated with your appeal, and only a limited gain if you are successful, it might not be worth pursuing.
In some states determining whose fault it is that the marriage ends is a necessary part of the dissolution process. However, in Washington it is unnecessary to show who is to blame. A divorce may be ordered by the court without establishing that one party is at fault. In the majority of cases fault is also irrelevant to the property division, order of child support, and the parenting plan. There are, however, some circumstances when the behavior of one party during the marriage can affect the dissolution proceedings:
- Parenting – A spouse who acts in a way that could threaten the health or welfare of the children should be aware that his or her behavior could affect the parenting plan. If the divorce was caused by one parent being abusive, using drugs, or otherwise living in a way that could compromise the safety and/or security of the children, then who is at fault in the divorce may become relevant.
- Property – In limited circumstances, a party’s behavior during marriage can affect the property distribution and/or spousal maintenance. If it is found that one spouse used marital assets in a way that had no chance of benefiting the community the court may consider this when dividing assets. In determining spousal maintenance, the court may look at the behavior of the spouses during marriage.
- Child Support – It is unlikely that the court will consider spousal fault in determining child support. However, if the spouses divorce because of one spouse’s failure to contribute to the family finances, this may become relevant to determining child support. In most cases, the parents’ income determines child support. In circumstances where one parent is unemployed or underemployed, the court has to set a child support level based on an imputed income.
It is important that you discuss with your attorney the reason that you and your spouse are divorcing. While it will not determine whether you can get divorced in Washington, it may impact other areas of your dissolution case.
Please contact us if you’d like to set an appointment.
During marriage, many people say that they have to pick their battles with their spouse. They say that in everyday annoyances they choose to let it go and choose not to “battle,” but in bigger, fundamental issues they choose to discuss, argue, and (hopefully) work it out. While it may seem that the time for this type of decision making ends when the marriage does, it can actually be even more important to carefully choose your battles after the marriage has ended.
Here are a few things that should be considered when deciding whether to battle or let it go:
- Compare the Problem to the Potential Solution. Sometimes a client comes in with an underpayment of $500 for a one-time cost that the other party should have shared with them. They want to go to court and ask the court to require the other party to pay. While we understand this inclination to seek justice, in some circumstances the amount to be gained, is less than the resources that could be expended going to court. (That said, see number two) In those circumstances, it is sometimes advisable to let the issue go.
- Consider the Intangibles. Sometimes it is important to involve the court in your dispute so that you set a standard of compliance with the orders. If your child’s other parents is continually late with child support or maintenance, but you always end up getting paid, it might still be worth bringing this to the court’s attention merely because of the message it communicates to the other party. In some instances it is important that the other party know that you will not tolerate continual misfeasance.
- Think About the Kids. If you have children, it is important to think about the possible adverse effects that might arise from taking the other party to court. I recently consulted with a client that had a great co-parenting relationship with her former spouse. She then told me that he had failed to pay his portion of a childcare bill amounting to a few hundred dollars. We discussed the potential benefits and disadvantages of the suit. She believed that bringing her children’s father to court would sour their relationship. We discussed the importance of keeping written record of his failure to pay, but eventually she decided that ruining their co-parenting relationship was not worth a few hundred dollars.
This is only a brief list of things to be considered prior to bringing a party back to court for failure to comply with a court order, or for other reasons. If you are considering bringing your former spouse back to court and you would like to discuss the issue with a family law attorney, we’d be honored if you chose to contact us.