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Articles Tagged with property division

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

A recent article on Bloomberg.com states that the divorce rate in America is rising alongside our improving economy. The article suggests that people stuck in marriages for financial reasons, are now able to leave in the improved financial climate. The changing economy definitely impacts our clients. Here are three changes we’ve noticed in the last few months:

  1. Homes are more likely to be an asset. Before housing prices dropped, we would often see clients whose greatest asset was their home. Then, when the recession hit and housing prices dropped precipitously, clients were dealing with a home that was their greatest debt. Parties would argue over who got stuck with the house! Now, we’re back in a place where most of our clients’ homes are assets again.
  2. Child support and spousal maintenance levels are likely to be higher. With an improved economy, there are many people with improved salaries and more assets. Unsurprisingly, this usually means that they will pay more in child support or spousal maintenance than they did when they made less, and had less.
  3. People are employed. We’ve seen more of our clients with stable full-time employment in recent months. This is especially helpful as we try and help our clients plan for their financial futures post-divorce. It also impacts how parenting plans are designed. A parent at work may require more evening and weekend time, and less middle of the day time than a non-working parent.

As things continue to change in our local and national economies, we are prepared to help with all your family law issues. We stay abreast of the changing economic conditions, and how these conditions might affect our clients. Please contact us today.

For a variety of reasons, some people choose to be in a long-term committed relationship instead of getting married. When these relationships end, many people feel like they are going through a divorce. As you can imagine, after years in a committed relationship there is often co-ownership of real and personal property, and debt associated with the property. Although in many ways these long-term relationships can be like a marriage, the dissolution process is not available to the couple. This can leave many people feeling without resources to resolve the property issues associated with the end of their relationship.

Fortunately for some, while common-law marriages may not be formed under Washington law, in some circumstances unmarried couples that are able to show that they are in a committed intimate relationship may ask the courts to help them divide property and debt. To qualify as a committed intimate relationship the parties must show that they were in a marital-like relationship. To determine whether the relationship was marital-like the courts will review several factors (ex. pooling of resources, continuous cohabitation, and duration of relationship). Property acquired during a committed intimate relationship is subject to equitable division by the court.

These cases are not without their challenges, and should only be brought when the relationship is likely to qualify as a committed intimate relationship. Also, it is important to note that not all the remedies available to divorcing parties are available to parties to a committed intimate relationship. For example, parties ending a committed intimate relationship will not be awarded spousal maintenance (often called alimony).

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