Law Offices of Susan Millican O'Brian & Associates, P.S. Law Offices of Susan Millican O'Brian & Associates, P.S.

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Redmond Divorce Law Blog

Understanding property division in Washington

In the state of Washington, there is no set way to determine how property is divided. In making a property division ruling, the judge overseeing the case must take many factors into consideration. These factors include the financial standing of each spouse as well as how long the two were married. A court may also take any other special factors into consideration if necessary.

When determining the financial situation of each person, a judge will first look to see if each party is employed. If not, a judge will look to see if an unemployed person is collecting income from social security or a pension. In making a ruling, a custodial parent may be entitled to keep the family home regardless of his or her financial situation. This will be done to ensure that a child does not have to move from his or her home.

Acknowledgement of paternity

In Washington, unmarried parents can sign a Paternity Acknowledgement to show the courts the identity of the biological father. If the mother was married or in a recognized relationship and a different person is acknowledging paternity, the presumed person will need to sign a Denial of Paternity as they are thought to be the biological father of the child. If both documents are not filed with the Department of Health, the new paternity will not be valid.

A Paternity Acknowledgment can be signed at a hospital, clinic or under the eye of a midwife. The paperwork should then be notarized and submitted to DOH. However, the form can be filed through the county or through a Division of Child Support office. The parents will need to pay the related fee and have the form notarized before they return it to DOH. Even minors can follow this procedure; they will be expected to understand the form just as legal adults are.

Child custody and parenting plans

For divorcing couples in Washington and across the country, one of the most challenging aspects of the divorce process is the effect that it will have on the couple's children. Issues of child support and custody can be highly charged for divorcing parents, but as a general rule, states will award custody based upon what is in the child's best interests, and Washington is no exception. Whether a state awards sole or joint custody to a mother, father or both, a custody case must have a proposed parenting plan approved by the court before any final order is issued.

The purpose of a parenting plan is to ensure a stable and healthy environment for the child. In order to best achieve this purpose, a parenting plan must provide for the child's physical well-being and emotional stability. In addition, the plan needs to provide for the child's changing needs as he or she grows and matures, ultimately minimizing the need for future modifications to the child custody plan.

Pusuing protection orders in Washington

In the state of Washington, a judge can issue a protective restraining order when there is cause to believe that a person suffers from domestic violence. These orders might also be issued in cases that involve risk of any other act that involves violence, force or threats, especially when the person fears death, bodily injury or sexual assault.

There are two types of protective orders. An Ex Parte Order protects a person for up to 14 days or until a hearing on the charge, and a Final Order for Protection lasts up to one year. The final hearing will be 14 days or few from the date that the temporary order was issued.

How can paternity be established in Washington?

King residents may wish to know about the laws surrounding establishing paternity in Washington. There are a few different methods, with each one being appropriate depending on certain factors.

Under the laws of the State of Washington, there are four ways for a parent to establish paternity of their child. If the biological father marries the child's mother prior to the birth of the child, then there is a presumption of paternity. This may also apply when the couple is in a registered domestic partnership. The father may also sign an official form called a Paternity Acknowledgement which will then make him the legal father of the child. In cases where there is already a presumed father, that man will have to sign a Presumed Parent's Denial of Paternity in order for the actual father's Paternity Acknowledgement to be valid.

Laws considered to separate guns and domestic abusers

Like many places in America, Washington is no stranger to domestic violence. Now legislation is being considered at the federal level that would affect convicted abusers and their ability to procure a firearm. There are many proponents of this legislation and wide popular support for these reforms.

Unmistakable links between domestic violence, firearms and homicide have been demonstrated. Over 60 percent of all American women killed with a firearm were murdered during a domestic violence incident. The statistical likelihood of a homicide during a domestic violence incident increases significantly when there is a gun present. These correlations are cause for a wide group of Americans to advocate legal reforms to remove firearms from the presence of known abusers.

An overview of the evolution of laws against spousal abuse

Domestic violence has long been a problem in Washington just as it has been in the rest of America. Beatings and other threatening behavior in the home have been a well-known social ill since at least the 17th century when the Massachusetts Body of Laws and Liberties attempted to protect women from domestic violence in 1641. Unfortunately, the issue has persisted up until the present day, affecting both wives and husbands. However, since the last half of the 20th century, there has been a concerted effort on many fronts to confront this dilemma and prevent further occurrences.

A pivotal moment in the modern view of domestic violence came in 1979 when the U.S. Surgeon General Julius B. Richmond identified spousal abuse as one of the primary ills affecting America. This was followed up 15 years later when the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law in 1994. This landmark legislation, in addition to providing funds to train half a million law enforcement personnel in dealing with domestic violence, established the National Domestic Violence Hotline that allows those in dire predicaments to reach out for help.

Basketball star in custody and paternity dispute

Washington state fans of basketball may have heard about the recent custody issues surrounding the Pacers All-Star, Paul George. The mother of a young child asserts that George is the father, and, depending on the outcome of a scientific paternity test, they may both sue for sole custody of the infant.

The mother has already filed for sole child custody, citing George's demanding travel schedule as part of a professional basketball team as being detrimental to the child. George has sought additional testing to buttress the findings of the prenatal paternity test, but he has already issued statements to the effect that, if the second and more rigorous test reveals him to be the father, then he plans to "embrace" the opportunity and seek sole custody of the infant as well.

The uses of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements

Washington residents may have heard that Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, recently finalized divorce proceedings with his wife. According to information that was recently discovered in the former couple's postnuptial agreement, Spitzer was required to pay his wife $7.5 million and transfer ownership of their home to her. He is also obligated to pay her $240,000 annually and offer her a $100,000 stipend that she can donate to charity every year.

The terms of the agreement serve as an example of how powerful postnuptial and prenuptial agreements can be. The documents typically outline the terms of a divorce, and they often include considerations for spousal maintenance, the division of marital propertyand custody arrangements if minor children are involved. The language of the agreements often helps couples avoid court intervention and property division based on state laws. With exceptionally high divorce rates, especially for those who are in second and third marriages, individuals who are considering marriage might be interested in drafting such a document.

Reminder: Big changes for Domestic Partnerships

Don't forget - as of June 30, 2014, your domestic partnership will be automatically converted to a marriage unless you do something affirmatively.  Please contact us at 425 869-8067 for an immediate consult.

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