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

Requesting to change a child's name after divorce

There are many reasons a Washington mother may wish to change their child's name after a divorce to match her maiden name. For example, she may be getting remarried and the stepparent may be preparing to adopt the child or if the father no longer plays a part in the child's life.

In many cases, a mother who is the custodial parent may not change the name of their child to match their maiden name. However, there are certain exceptions to this. For example, a court may order that the child's name change is justified if it can be shown that this request is in the best interest of the child. There are a number of factors that will be taken into consideration, including the relationship the father has with their child, how long the child has been using the father's name and how old the child is.

Strategies for protecting a company during divorce

Since Washington is a community property state, individuals who own a business there should take steps to protect that asset in case of a subsequent divorce. This is best done as early as possible.

A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is a good idea if a divorce is a possibility. A buy-sell agreement for the business details what happens if there is a change in the owner's status and can include rules that protect it from a spouse. A trust may mean that the business will not be considered a marital asset, or an individual who has a whole-life insurance policy may be able to cash it in and buy out a spouse.

How can divorce affect someone's 401k?

Getting a divorce in Washington state or in any other state could have an impact on an individual's 401K. As part of a divorce settlement, the court may order that a spouse or a dependent may be entitled to receive a portion of that 401K. This withdrawal of assets due to a divorce is known as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). Money withdrawn from the 401K is generally used to cover alimony payments and other support orders.

One piece of good news for those who have assets withdrawn due to a divorce is that the withdrawal is typically not subject to a 10 percent early withdrawal fee. However, this is only the case if the QDRO is done correctly. To potentially save time and expense, it may be worthwhile to talk to the plan's administrator to determine if there is a QDRO model available.

How inheritance is handled in divorce

Some Washington couples may be wondering what happens to their inheritance if they get divorced. It is important to know that what the inheritor has done with the inheritance may have a very direct impact on the answer to that question. The biggest factor is commingling, or the mixture of personal and marital assets.

Most people will bring some of their outside wealth into a marriage. By definition, any premarital assets are considered to remain the property of the spouse unless they are somehow commingled with martial property. For example, if one spouse had a savings account before the marriage and transferred the money into a joint account after the marriage, then that money would be considered martial property. The same idea holds true for inheritance. So long as the inheritance document names one spouse only, then that inheritance is personal property unless it becomes commingled.

Challenging paternity in Washington

Filing a suit to challenge a child's paternity is similar to one establishing it. Either parent may initiate the suit, but the court requires valid grounds for the suit. If the couple was married at the time of the child's birth, the discovery that the man is sterile or that the woman was unfaithful are grounds for challenging it. The only other grounds for challenging paternity include tainted, tampered or fraudulent lab results.

After either party files the complaint challenging paternity, the court may order DNA tests for the father and child. It will also seek additional evidence to determine the child's actual father, which could include voluntary acknowledgement by the actual father. At the end of the hearings, the court will name the father in an order, and the parties must meet to establish custody and child support arrangements.

How we can help you divide your divorce assets fairly

When it comes to complex asset division during contested divorce proceedings, our attorneys have successfully provided fair solutions to our clients throughout the state of Washington. Because of our experience, we have a thorough understanding of the state laws which require the courts to distribute all assets involved in a divorce proceeding. Whenever substantial assets are involved, it takes a qualified group of attorneys to do this successfully.

Our law firm has handled a variety of divorce cases ranging from families with successful businesses to those with who own properties presenting challenging and complex legal situations. We have represented a wide range of clients including highly skilled executives from many large industries as well as professionals in various careers.

Modification of Washington custody orders

Even after parents divorce and a custody order has been issued by the court, situations arise which necessitate one party to seek modification of the prior order. Sometimes one or both parties have experienced significant changes of circumstances, while others may have a change in work schedule or a planned move that necessitates such a change.

In order to obtain a modification, the parent seeking it must be able to prove to the judge one of several things. Obviously, if the parties agree to the requested change and it is in the best interests of the child to do so, the court will grant it. However, in many cases an agreement to a change is not available to the moving party.

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.

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