Articles Tagged with family law

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

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.

If you are contemplating or experiencing a divorce, it is important that you are aware of Washington State Laws and how they might affect your divorce proceedings. Here are three laws that you should review and why they might be important to your case. This is just a brief look at Washington laws, and an attorney can assist you with a more in-depth review.

  1. RCW 26.09.080 – This statute is important because it provides some of the factors that the court will look to when determining how marital property will be divided. The list of factors is not an exclusive list, and the court will consider other relevant factors not listed within the statute.
  2. RCW 26.09.090 – This statute provides the factors the court will consider when determining whether to award spousal maintenance (commonly known as alimony). These factors are also used to determine how much maintenance to order, and for what duration maintenance should be ordered.
  3. RCW 26.09.187 – In dissolution cases involving children, this can be the most important statute of all. Paragraph 3 of the statute provides the factors the court must consider when determining the proper residential schedule for the children. The statute requires that courts give the first factor the greatest weight.

If you would like to speak with a Seattle area divorce attorney, please contact us. We would be happy to discuss these laws and all others that might impact your case and your life.

Jurisdiction is the power of a court to make decisions regarding an issue or case. In family law, questions of jurisdiction can be very simple, extremely complex, or somewhere in between. For example, if the parties (to a family law action) have children and all involved parties and children live in Washington (and the children have been in the state for six months), Washington courts will have jurisdiction. Unfortunately, things are not always this simple. Family law actions are often precipitated by one parent and/or spouse moving out of the state. So where is the proper place to file if the parties live in two different states?

Jurisdiction over most family law cases is governed by RCW 4.28.185. This permits Washington courts jurisdiction over nonresident parties (i.e., parties living outside the state) if the nonresident party may have conceived a child in the state, lived as a married couple in the state, agrees to jurisdiction in Washington, or if the petitioning party still lives here or is a member of the armed services stationed here. Please note, even if the court does not have personal jurisdiction over the nonresident party, the court may still dissolve the marriage of the parties, but it will be unable to divide property and liabilities.

Jurisdiction in cases involving child custody is governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This act requires that jurisdiction over initial custody determinations be made by the child’s home state. (The home state may  decline jurisdiction if Washington is deemed a more appropriate forum.) The home state is the state where the child has lived for six months prior to the filing of the action. (If the child is under six months of age then the child’s home state is where the child has lived since birth.) The issue of jurisdiction can be further complicated if the child and both parents are no longer present in the state that would otherwise be deemed the child’s home state, but the child has not been in a new state long enough to create a new home state.

As family law attorneys, we often ask our clients to write declarations. Clients are often unsure of what a declaration is, and how it may be used. Here we’ll provide a brief overview of what declarations are and how they may be used in family law cases.

Declarations are sworn statements. They are written by people with factual information they think will be important to the court in making a decision. Declarations are the declarant’s story of how an event (or series of events) transpired. Parties and non-parties may write declarations. Declarations need not be notarized (that would be an affidavit), but they are signed under penalty of perjury. Declarations may be written on Washington’s pattern form.

Many clients have a lot they think the court needs to know in order to make a just decision. They may want to submit a 50 page declaration, or 50 one-page declarations from all their friends and family members. Unfortunately, the length of declarations is limited by court rules. The limitation generally includes the initial declaration as well as the reply declaration, meaning that you need to save some of your pages for after you receive the other side’s response. As attorneys, it is our job to help you decide what information is most important for the decision-maker to read.

Happy New Year! We hope that 2014 brings you happiness and joy.

January is often a busy time for family law attorneys. Clients come into our office for all sorts of reasons. Some people come into our office having just suffered through a stressful, contentious holiday season, intent on making sure they never have go through it again. Getting an early start on their family law action makes it much more likely that they will be able to conclude the action prior to the next holiday season.

Other clients come in with a resolution to resolve their family law disputes. They may have a nagging need to adjust their parenting plan or modify their child support. It is almost always best to act soon, rather than wait until later to make changes. For example, if changes need to be made to child support the court will usually only adjust the level back to the date the petition for modification is made.

As any parent knows, kids change over time. They grow bigger, stronger, more independent, and busier. As they change, it is often necessary for the parenting plan that schedules their residential time to change with them. Last week, this blog discussed flexibility within parenting plans, or within the families following (or not following) a parenting plan. Here we’ll discuss a few ways that parenting plans can address growing children’s changing needs.

First, the form parenting plan provides two paragraphs for planning the child’s residential time with each parent. The two paragraphs address the child’s schedule at two different ages. Paragraph 3.1 of the form parenting plan addresses the child’s residential schedule while the child is under school age. (School age is defined by paragraph 3.2 of the form [usually when the child starts kindergarten or first grade]). Paragraph 3.2 provides the residential schedule for school-age children. This provides families the ability to make two residential schedules within the plan itself. Parents often choose to have more frequent, but shorter visits for the non-primary parent when the child is under school age, and then visits of longer duration when the child is older. These decisions are (hopefully) dependent on the needs of the child and their families.

Second, layered into the existing form, you can also have an even more graduated approach. If the child is very young, the child may need to have very short visits during the first year or so, followed by longer and longer visits all while they are still in the “before school age” definition. Or, you may want to design a different schedule for elementary, middle school, and high school. While the pattern form is designed for two schedules, it is possible to add more than two if both families agree, or if one party convinces the court that it is necessary.

Many people wonder when is the right time to consult with an attorney about their family law case. Often, the difficulty in making this decision results in people waiting too long to confer with an attorney. Having a client come into our office long after pleadings have been filed, arguments heard and even orders entered is often a frustrating experience. As family law attorneys we are able to see how the case might have gone differently if the person would have been represented throughout the process. Often, by the time the person comes into our office our ability to help them is severely limited by actions previously taken while unrepresented.

While each person’s case and circumstances are different, here are occasions when you may want to consider speaking with a family law attorney:

  1. If you are served with a petition, motion, notice, or other court document.
  2. If you are considering filing a petition or complaint in your family law case.
  3. If you are entering a marriage and you want to know about protecting the assets you currently have.
  4. If you are experiencing a change in circumstances in your family and want to know how it might affect your legal rights or obligations.

Just because you speak with an attorney about your case does not mean that you have to hire that attorney to represent you; however, at least you can ask that attorney what the process will be like. With more information you will be more prepared to decide whether you want to represent yourself, be represented by an attorney, or consult with an attorney, but do some of the work yourself.