Is Divorce your New Year’s Resolution?

As we begin 2019, many are preparing to take action on their New Year’s resolutions. If nothing else, this is a time of reflection over the past year and a time to imagine what hopes and goals we have for the year ahead. Maybe you are planning to stop smoking, drink less, exercise more, eat healthier, or become more politically active. Most of us hope to make positive changes or do something that will better ourselves. This may involve re-evaluating our relationships and in some cases putting an end to an unhappy marriage.

Entering 2019, divorce is likely on the minds of many. People are reflecting upon their relationships as they reflect upon their lives. This is a common time for people to contemplate and ultimately pursue separation and divorce.

Trends in recent years have given January the less-than-endearing nickname “Divorce Month”, with January seeing more divorce inquiries than at any other time in the year. Others refer to January as the beginning of “Divorce Season”, as people are beginning to consider their options and divorce rates remain higher beginning in January and through March. Either way, there is a definite surge that occurs in January in the number of people seeking divorce advice and ultimately filing.

Why the divorce surge in January?

Here are some factors to consider:

Couples hold it together for the holidays:

  • Generally if one is making a divorce inquiry in January, they made the decision to do so well before the holidays. Many times, couples will choose to hold off proceeding with divorce until after the holidays to avoid making it unpleasant for children or other family members. This means January is prime time to announce and pursue divorce plans, once holiday festivities have completed.
  • In other cases, the stress and pressure of the holidays may be just enough to push struggling spouses over the edge. Holiday stress has the tendency to magnify and even exacerbate existing problems.

A fresh start in the New Year:

  • It is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts, reflections and resolutions. People who are unhappy in their marriages frequently use this time to decide to make significant changes. In some cases this may mean committing to doing things differently in the marriage, beginning couples counseling, etc. However, it is also common that unhappy spouses are ready for a blank slate. They may decide that their resolution for the coming year is to remove themselves from an unhappy or dysfunctional marriage, leading to increased divorce inquiries and filings.

Financial reasons:

  • For some couples, choosing to file for divorce in January is a calculated financial decision. They may want to avoid interference with joint tax filings from the previous year, to maintain the tax benefits of filing jointly one last time. There may be other strategic economic reasons to wait until the start of the new year to file, depending on the couple’s unique situation.

Legal Representation:

Divorce is complicated even when it’s not complicated. Dissolving a union that was meant to be forever is challenging and painful, and you should not try to tackle it alone. Contact an experienced family law attorney to represent and advise you appropriately. Our family law attorneys at Dellino Law Group are highly skilled and experienced in managing divorces on all parts of the conflict spectrum, from more simple dissolutions to very high conflict divorces. Our attorneys are well-versed in the sensitive nature of this topic area. We are prepared to help you navigate the process, offer sound legal advice and counsel, and ultimately reach a resolution.

Please contact us for a Consultation as soon as possible so we can begin to assist you with this challenging process.

Crime Prevention Tips for the Holiday Season

During the holiday season, there tends to be an upswing in crime rates for certain types of crimes. Some of the top crimes committed over the holidays include shoplifting, robbery, identity theft, DUI, and assault.

By remaining aware of holiday season risks you can better protect yourself and decrease your chances of becoming a victim. Please review these crime prevention tips to assist you in having a safe and joyful holiday season.

When Shopping:

  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings
  • Park in a well-lit area, near other cars. Hide any shopping bags in a locked trunk.
  • When you return to your vehicle, check for forced entry and scan to be sure no one is hiding inside.
  • Have your keys out and ready when approaching your vehicle. Avoid fumbling in your purse outside your vehicle.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or excess credit cards beyond what you need. If you do go to an ATM, make sure it is in a well-lit, safe location, and check your surroundings before withdrawing cash.
  • Carry your purse close to your person. Do not leave your purse, wallet, or cell phone in plain view and don’t carry your wallet or cell phone in your back pocket.
  • Do not resist or chase someone who is trying to rob you; they may have a weapon. Call 911 for assistance.
  • If you are shopping with children, have a safety plan and discuss when them ahead of time what to do if you get separated.

When Driving:

  • Drive defensively and with heightened vigilance. Remember that traffic is heavier during the holidays and there may be an increased number of drivers who have been drinking.
  • Lock your car doors and close the windows while driving.
  • Avoid shortcuts or detours that take you through unsafe or unfamiliar areas.
  • Don’t exit your car if you see a suspicious or shady situation.
  • Keep a safe following distance, allowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you.

When Celebrating:

  • Plan to drive sober or designate someone else to. If you are the designated driver, don’t drink.
  • Save the number or a taxi or rideshare company in your phone so you always have a backup plan.
  • Consider using smartphone apps like Lyft or Uber
  • If you have been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use a rideshare company, or use public transportation to get home safely. If you know others who are about to driver under the influence, help them make other arrangements to get home safely

When at Home:

  • Be cautious when accepting packages and with people soliciting charitable donations. Ask for identification and confirm legitimacy before giving.
  • If you are leaving town, ask a trustworthy neighbor to watch your home and bring in the mail, deterring others from knowing you are not home.
  • Put your lights on an automatic timer.
  • Be extra vigilant when locking your doors and windows. Consider installation of secondary locks (deadbolts, etc.)
  • Don’t leave any valuables or gifts in view from outside the home.

Dellino Law Group wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

HELPING YOUR CHILDREN COPE WITH DIVORCE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

The holidays are notoriously challenging for those undergoing stressful life changes, such as separation or divorce. Those enduring these experiences may be feeling amplified loneliness this time of year, while others are filled with holiday cheer.

The holiday season is often a particularly special time for children. Many kids wait with excitement and anticipation for the holidays, making it that much more difficult when divorce or separation is coloring the picture.

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson with Seattle Children’s Hospital spoke on King 5 News about how to support children who are affected by divorce or separation. According to Dr. Swanson, more than 1 million U.S. children experience divorce or separation of their parents each year. The holidays can especially challenging for these children, often bringing on a sense of intensified loss or confusion. Dr. Swanson highlights that many children’s behavior changes in the first year of separation, encouraging parents to be very aware and supportive. Toddlers may regress and school age children may struggle with school, sleep, or interpersonally.

Please review our 5 tips for divorced or separated parents to reduce stress and help your children cope:

  • Be aware that your children’s feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or confusion may be amplified during the first year of separation and during the holidays
  • Communicate honestly with your child. Encourage them to speak openly about how they feel and answer their questions.
  • Keep routines as unchanged as possible, in order to provide some stability and structure.
  • Utilize your child’s pediatrician as a resource for your child’s emotional and physical health, in response to this major life transition.
  • Provide reassurance for your children that they are not to blame.

If this is your first holiday season post-divorce or separation, please review these additional tips/suggestions for surviving this time of year with your children’s best interest in mind:

  • Decide ahead of time how holidays will be divided. Create a plan that is clear, balanced, and acts in the best interest of the children. Keep arrangements as clear-cut as possible to minimize confusion for the children and to avoid unnecessary conflict with the other parent.
  • Provide reassurance for your children that the holidays will be enjoyable even though they will be different this year. Allow your children to be part of the process of creating new holiday traditions.
  • Focus on making your children’s holidays cheerful, joyful, and bright, staying as present-focused as possible.
  • If you do not get to spend the holidays with your children this year, plan an earlier or later celebration. Be reassuring and do not make them feel guilty.

Happy Independence Day! Stay Safe and Avoid DUI Charges

Hooray for Independence Day!

Many celebrations will commence this weekend, continuing through Wed, July 4 and likely into next weekend too! There will be many drivers on the road and droves of folks out enjoying their Independence Day festivities. Please take the necessary steps to keep yourself and those around you safe.

Heavy traffic and anxious drivers are inevitable, making this a worthy time to remind you of our simple tips for staying safe during holiday driving. Use these tips to maximize the safety of yourself and your passengers, and to decrease the stress of driving this holiday week.

Dellino Law Group wishes you an enjoyable Independence Day week and urges you to drive safely.

  • Don’t drink and driveMany people will be out celebrating this week and alcohol is often part of the party. While out partaking in festivities, we encourage you to drink responsibly and choose a designated driver. Keep yourself and those around you safe.
  • Make sure the car is readyBe sure your vehicle is properly maintained, in good shape for travel.
  • Map your route out ahead of time when possible. Have a plan and be aware of alternate routes.
  • Buckle upEnsure you and your passengers are properly restrained in seat belts and car safety seats.
  • Have an emergency planHave a cell phone and charger with you so it can be used in case of an emergency. Keep the contact information for emergency roadside assistance handy.
  • Do NOT text while driving and minimize cell phone use in order to keep your full attention on the road. Utilize a hands-free device if you need to use your cell phone.
  • Keep a safe following distanceallowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you. If someone is tailgating you, allow them to pass. Don’t try to compete with impatient and aggressive drivers.
  • Watch your speedDrive to the conditions and don’t drive over the speed limit. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going so you are not in a rush.
  • Remain calm. If you feel stressed or irritable, take some deep breaths and stay calm. Don’t drive with road rage – This compromises the safety of yourself and the people around you.

Independence Day celebrations often include BBQs and parties, where alcohol is a common part of the equation. As everyone is out celebrating this week, we ask you to take the essential steps to keep yourself and those around you safe.

Please review our essential *TIP FOR AVOIDING A DUI:

  1. Designate a sober driver.If you are the designated driver, don’t drink.
  2. Plan ahead: Save the number of a taxi or rideshare company in your phone so you will always have a backup plan.
  3. Consider using smartphone apps like Lyft or Uber.
  4. If you have been drinking, don’t drive. Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use a rideshare company, or use public transportation to get home safely.
  5. If you know of others who are at risk for driving under the influence, help them make alternate arrangements to get home safely.

Remember that a DUI is more than just a party foul. You could be looking at driver’s license suspension, large fines, jail time, the long term impacts of a criminal record, and much worse. You do not want your celebration to be overshadowed by tragedy. Driving under the influence of alcohol puts at risk your own life and the lives of others.

*If you are stopped for suspicion of DUI – CALL US.

  • Contact our DUI Law Firm immediately for a FREE CONSULTATION. We are available by phone 24/7. Keep our number in your phone or wallet and insist on calling us. We will advocate for you through this confusing and emotional process and help you reach the best possible outcome.

TOP 10 DIVORCE PLANNING TIPS

No matter what the circumstances, divorce is complicated. Ending a partnership that you hoped would last forever is logistically challenging and emotionally painful. Following these tips will help you be better prepared and ultimately achieve a more optimal outcome in your divorce or separation.

Please review our Top 10 Divorce Planning Tips:

1. Access your emotional support

Consider couples counseling if it feels appropriate, and most importantly seek individual counseling for yourself. It is essential to gather emotional support during this challenging time. Whether it is a close friend, a family member, and/or a professional, access your support system, gather your thoughts and emotions, and prioritize caring for yourself.

2. Hire professionals

Divorce is complicated even when it is not complicated. The process of ending a relationship can be complex and generally quite emotionally charged, and you should not try to tackle it alone. Contact an experienced family law attorney to represent and advise you appropriately.

3. Learn about the divorce process

Get educated, speak with professionals, do your research. Refrain from making assumptions and don’t base your decisions on what someone else you know went through. Gather information, understand the basic process and how it will apply to your situation.

4. Gather financial documents

Learn all there is to know about your family’s finances. Gather copies of bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, and other financial account records. Be aware of all of your family’s assets and debts and obtain all of the relevant documents prior to filing for divorce and/or moving out. This could save you potential struggles with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

5. Establish financial independence

Start saving! It is recommended you place some cash in a separate account if at all possible. Do this prior to filing for divorce or moving out as a means of self-protection and preparedness. If it is not possible to open a personal account, consider opening a low-interest credit card

6. Consider your children

Prepare yourself ahead of time for how to approach things with your children. Be mindful of how a significant family change may affect them. Prepare yourself to keep the peace as much as possible, for your children’s benefit. Resist involving them in the turmoil and prioritize their best interests. Do not badmouth your spouse. Be prepared to talk to your children about what is happening in an age-appropriate way. Listen to them and ensure they have adequate, appropriate support with other family members, at school, and/or with a counselor.

7. Determine custody goals

Think carefully and realistically about what custody arrangement would be in the best interest of your children. Consider all of the variables, schedules, logistics, etc. Determine the custody goals you wish to pursue.

8. Make decisions about your living situation

There are a lot of factors to consider when determining where you will live, both during and post-divorce. Clarify your goals around living arrangements prior to initiating the divorce/separation process. Do you want your spouse to move out? Will you be moving out? If there is a family-owned home, will you want to sell it or have one of you keep it? Before you make any decisions to move out of your home, list your home for sale, or act on your decisions, discuss how to best achieve your goals with an experienced family law attorney.

9. Refrain from airing grievances on social media

Tread lightly and keep your divorce off social media. Anything you say or do in an open social media forum could be used against you and sharing the nitty gritty details of your divorce with your Facebook friend list is very unwise.

10. Protect yourself and do not enter into a marriage without a prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement is executed and determined before a marriage, clarifying which assets are brought to the partnership by each party and characterizing how they would be addressed in the event of a divorce or a legal separation. Protect yourself and do not enter into a marriage without a prenuptial agreement! You are not betting on your marriage to fail, you are choosing to be prepared for all outcomes.

 

June is Pride Month! LGBT Family Law Expertise at Dellino Law Group

LGBT Family Law

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, making it a great opportunity to highlight issues surrounding LGBT Family Law.

Dellino Law Group ardently supports marriage and relationship equality. Regardless of sexual or gender orientation, we believe in each family’s right to exceptional legal representation.

LGBT family law continues to change rapidly, both federally and in Washington State. We are dedicated to remaining up-to-date and knowledgeable with the evolving nature of the law, and we are proud to serve the LGBT community throughout Seattle and Washington State. The following are just a few of our specialty areas:

*Child Custody for Same-Sex Parents:

Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State in December 2012 and there are no legal differences between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. In the same vein, child custody considerations should be subject to the same laws for same-sex couples as for opposite-sex couples.

However, many same-sex couples with children have been together for many years prior to December 2012 and/or may not yet have chosen to legally marry. In cases where one partner is the legal parent of the child, custody issues may become challenging if a separation should arise. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the existing laws to potentially establish parental rights based on demonstrating the parent-child relationship and bond, despite legal or biological ties.

Other child custody issues or disputes may arise for same-sex parents as well. Our family law attorneys at Dellino Law Group understand the unique considerations involved when creating parenting plans for same-sex parents and are skilled and experienced in advocating for the rights of parents, regardless of sexual or gender orientation.

*Divorce for Same-Sex Couples:

Once again, same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State in December 2012 and there are no legal differences between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. This includes marriages entered into in Washington State as well as in any other state. The only way to dissolve a same-sex marriage in Washington State is through divorce proceedings, just the same as an opposite-sex marriage.

It is advised that you contact an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process of dissolving your marriage. At Dellino Law Group, we have worked with many same-sex couples in dissolving their marriages. We understand that even though the law and procedure may be the same as it is for opposite-sex couples, there could arise complex, unique issues, given that this is still fairly new territory in terms of case law. We are dedicated to helping you achieve the best possible outcome in your individual case.

*Domestic Partnerships:

In 2007, Washington State began allowing same-sex couples to register as domestic partners. Unless dissolved, all of the Washington State domestic partnerships were converted to marriages on June 30, 2014. If your domestic partnership was converted to marriage and you are now seeking divorce, there are special considerations you need to be aware of.

For questions or consult about dissolutions of domestic partnerships, conversion to marriage, or registration of domestic partnerships, please contact us.

*Committed Intimate Relationships:

In Washington State, “common law marriage” does not exist. However, Washington courts do recognize “committed intimate relationships. These relationships were formerly known as “meretricious relationships” and exist when an unmarried couple lives together for a significant period of time. In Washington State, these relationships have property rights similar to those had by married couples. It is critical that you know and understand the implications of living with an intimate partner in Washington so you can plan accordingly. Cohabitation laws apply to all couples meeting legal requirements for committed intimate relationships, including both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

Please see our blog post  for detailed information about committed intimate relationships including factors the court uses to determine this type of relationship, your rights, and important issues to consider.

*Adoptions:

Many gay and lesbian couples are uneasy about potentially facing discrimination when looking to adopt. Some states do have laws that are less welcoming and even outright discriminating, but Washington is not one of those states.

In Washington, same-sex couples have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. Any person who is legally competent and who is at least 18 years old may become an adoptive parent (RCW 26.33.140). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are qualified to adopt, regardless of whether they are single or married.

Same-sex couples can adopt jointly and can arrange second-parent adoptions as well. The NCLR(National Center for Lesbian Rights) defines second-parent adoption as a legal procedure that allows same-sex parents to adopt his or her partner’s biological or adoptive child without terminating the first parent’s legal status as a parent, regardless of whether they have a legally recognized relationship to the other parent. This is also known as a co-parent adoption.

Unfortunately, there is not yet an anti-discrimination law in place preventing birth parents from deciding against individuals or couples based on sexual or gender orientation. If you are a LGBT-identified individual or couple, finding the right adoption match may be challenging. It is advised that you work with an experienced attorney through this process. Our family law attorneys are very knowledgeable and experienced in the unique challenges LGBT individuals and couples face when seeking adoption. We are eager to work with you to achieve your goal of welcoming an adopted child into your family.

 *Legal Representation:

In addition to adoption, custody, and divorce expertise, we are equipped to manage the unique considerations for LGBT-identified individuals or couples who may be seeking

  • Estate Planning
  • Wills, trusts, and powers of attorney
  • Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
  • Property Division

Please contact us for a consultation to discuss any and all LGBT Family Law issues.

 

Mental Health Awareness Month

We can’t let May end without acknowledging the importance of Mental Health Awareness!

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! We join and support the efforts to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and the prevalence of mental illness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 1 in 5 Americans is affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime, at varying degrees. NAMI acknowledges that nearly every American is impacted of affected by mental illness through a friend or family member, and we are all responsible for supporting our loved ones, fighting stigma, and raising awareness.

More than 46 million people in this country suffer from some type of mental health disorder, yet there is still exists considerable widespread misconceptions and negative perceptions about mental illness. This contributes to significant stigma, which creates an environment of shame, fear, and isolation. Stigma may prevent people from seeking help and ultimately impede people from healing. People need to be supported to seek treatment and to develop a healthy support networks, free from judgment and negative perceptions of others.

NAMI reminds us that stigma can be cured. Compassion, empathy, and understanding are essential for combatting stigma and creating a cultural shift. We all must be a part of this change!

If you are struggling emotionally, please do not hesitate to seek support. If someone you care about is suffering, please encourage them or assist them in seeking support:

NAMI Seattle provides educational courses and support to those living with mental illness as well as their family and friends, and operates a mental health referral and information Helpline to connect callers to the support and resources they need. Please contact (206) 783-9264 or (800) 782-9264 for the NAMI Helpline.

If you or someone you know is in CRISIS, please do not waste any time! CALL FOR HELP IMMEDIATELY. If the crisis is life threatening, please contact 9-1-1. If the crisis is not life-threatening or if you are seeking help outside of regular NAMI office hours, please contact one of the following crisis hotlines:

Suicide Hotlines:     800-273-TALK • 800-273-8255  / 800-SUICIDE • 800-784-2433

Crisis Clinic 24-Hour Crisis Line:    866-427-4747

National Runaway Switchboard:   800-RUNAWAY • 800-786-2929

National Child Abuse Hotline:    800-422-4453

National Sexual Assault Hotline:   800-656-HOPE • 800-656-4673

National Domestic Violence Hotline:  800-799-7233

I’ve been charged with Assault 4 – Now what?

Assault charges vary greatly in terms of situation and seriousness. Being charged with assault can be confusing, upsetting, and life-changing. Whether it is self-defense, defense of another person, a lapse in judgment, or something else that led to the assault charge, you will need strong legal representation to navigate your charges, defend your rights, and fight for the best possible outcome.

Assault in the 4th Degree (Assault 4) and Domestic Violence Assault in the 4th Degree (DV Assault 4) are characterized as Gross Misdemeanor charges. The penalties and consequences of a conviction can be life changing.

Understand the law:

Fourth Degree Assault (Assault 4) – RCW 9A.36.041

  • A person may be charged with Fourth Degree Assault if he/she assaults another person under circumstances not amounting to First, Second, or Third Degree Assault
  • No injury needs to occur for Assault 4 charges to be filed. The requirement is that the contact be considered “offensive by an ordinary person”
  • This is a Gross Misdemeanor
  • Penalties: A conviction may result in fines up to $5,000 and jail time ranging from 0-364 days. The court may also order anger management or drug treatment classes, and/or may resolve the case through probation.

Domestic Violence Assault in the Fourth Degree (DV Assault 4)

  • A DV specification on an Assault 4 charge is likely to come with enhanced penalties.
  • Like Assault 4 (non-DV), DV Assault 4 is a Gross Misdemeanor and a conviction can result in up to 364 days of jail time and a $5,000 fine.
  • In addition, a DV Assault 4 conviction may lead to a loss of rights to possess firearms.
  • The court may also order a domestic violence treatment program and a no-contact order, keeping the accused away from their loved ones and even their home.

Understand the threshold for arrest:

  • The truth is it doesn’t take much to be arrested on a DV Assault 4 charge in Washington State. This is the most comment domestic violence charge in WA.
  • “Assault” is generally defined by case law as “any unwanted touching” and the law states that the contact must be considered offensive by a reasonable person.
  • If police are called to a scene and there is any indicator that unwanted touching has occurred, an arrest will take place.
  • State law requires the police to arrest the primary aggressor if they have probable cause to believe there was an assault within the last four hours.
  • DV Assault 4 charges do not require an injury to take place. DV Assault charges are filed when there are allegations of a minor injury or no injury at all.

Involve legal counsel as quickly as possible:

Be aware of your own behavior at all times, and especially in times of significant conflict or stress. Recognize the bar is low for Assault 4 arrests and charges and understand the magnitude of the potential repercussions. Consequences can be severe and life-altering. If you are charged with Assault 4 or DV Assault 4, be sure to contact an experienced defense attorney directly after your arrest. Dellino Law Group has the knowledge, expertise, and experience to help you fight your charges and reach the best outcome possible.

 

Committed Intimate Relationships: What to know when you move in with a partner

*WA recognizes Committed Intimate Relationships & Not Common-Law Marriage

It is a common assumption that after living with an intimate partner for a long-time, you automatically end up in “common-law marriage”. You get all the economic and legal benefits of a marriage without the formal certificate and expensive party. Sounds great, right?

Wrong. It’s not so simple. Only a handful of states recognize common-law marriages, and Washington State is not one of them.

While there is no common-law marriage in Washington State, unmarried couples living together for a significant period of time may become recognized as “committed intimate relationships”.  These relationships were formerly known as “meretricious relationships and are often inaccurately referred to as common-law marriages.

Committed intimate relationships, including both opposite-sex and same-sex couples, have property rights similar to those had by married couples in Washington State. It is essential for you to know and understand the implications of living with an intimate partner in the state of Washington so you can be well informed and plan accordingly.

*How does the court determine a Committed Intimate Relationship?

There is not a specific set of criteria or a distinct formula used to determine if a relationship constitutes a committed intimate relationship. The courts use a number of different factors when making this determination. Some of these factors (among others) may include:

  • How long was the relationship?
  • Was cohabitation continuous?
  • What was the purpose of the relationship and the intentions of the parties involved?
  • Did you hold yourself out as a couple?
  • Was this an exclusive relationship?
  • Were you registered domestic partners?
  • Did you pool resources / Did you buy property together?
  • Were you on each other’s bank accounts or credit cards?
  • Were you names in each other’s wills?

Each case is evaluated individually, but generally a couple needs to have lived together for a minimum of 2-3 years and presented/held themselves out to be in a committed intimate relationship.

*Rights in Committed Intimate Relationships:

When an unmarried, cohabitating couple separates, if their relationship constitutes a committed intimate relationship as determined by the courts, their rights and responsibilities are similar to those of married couples. If a couple cannot negotiate and come to an agreement on their own, the court may need to get involved in making determinations.

The most common issues that arise include:

  • Determining division of debts and liabilities
  • Determining property ownership rights and division of assets
  • Determining child custody and child support

Generally, property acquired during the committed intimate relationship is presumed to be owned jointly by both parties. This will be divided in a way that is fair and equitable as determined by the court. The separate property of the parties is not subject to division.

*Some of the significant differences between rights in a Committed Intimate Relationships vs. a Marriage:

  • Couples do not receive the same tax benefits as married couples
  • There is no spousal support and no duty of maintenance when a couple separates. The court will get involved with the division of assets and liabilities only. The only exception to this is if a couple has a valid written contract in place that provides for support or maintenance.
  • Attorney fees cannot be awarded in these cases. Each individual will have to pay their own fees. Awarding attorney fees is limited to married couples RCW 26.09.140

*What can I do to protect myself?

If you are considering moving in with an intimate partner or currently live with a partner, and were unaware of the WA law on committed intimate relationships, you may be wondering what you can or should do with this information.

*Enter into a Cohabitation Agreement:

  • This allows you to make sure that you and your partner dictate the terms of what will happen if your relationship and cohabitation are to end, rather than leaving it in the hands of a court.
  • You may do this either at the onset of moving in or even after you already have.
  • You can set forth how property will be divided and protect yourself from allowing a partner to gain a share of your property in the event of a break-up.
  • Cohabitation agreements protect both parties and serve as insurance in the event that are questions or disagreements at the end of a relationship, when emotions often run high.

*Legal Representation

Whether you are entering into, are in the midst of, or are facing the end of a committed intimate relationship, we are here to help. Our experienced family law attorneys will help you navigate this complicated and emotional process objectively. We have the expertise, knowledge, and compassion to assist you effectively and collaboratively as you enter the next phase of your life. Please contact us for a consultation.

Relocation with Children – Moving with Kids after a Divorce

If you are considering relocating with your child or have received notification of a proposed relocation from the other parent of your child, you need to know what to expect, what your rights and options are, and how to best proceed to protect the best interests of yourself and your children.

Washington law has a specific process and set of statutes that govern issues related to relocation with a child, including each party’s rights and responsibilities. This is also known as the Relocation Act (RCW 26.09.405-560).

*Proposing Relocation with Children:

For many different reasons, a parent may decide to move and relocate their child(ren) in the process of doing so. It may have to do with a job re-location or promotion, or it may be related to a divorce or separation and subsequent desire to move closer to extended family. For any reason, when the primary residential parent decides to move and relocate the children, the other parent has a right to be given notice of the proposed relocation and an opportunity to object. This is a legal requirement, regardless of whether you may believe the other parent is in agreement.

*Process of Notice and Objection:

If you are the primary residential parent and are intending to move and relocate the child(ren), you must give the other parent at least a 60 day notice. If you are given less than a 60 day notice of your move, for some unforeseen reason, you are required to give notice to the other parent within 5 days of becoming aware of it.

If your move is a far enough distance that it will disrupt the existing parenting plan, you must also file a proposed new parenting plan to replace the existing one.

The other parent has 30 days to file an objection with the court. The court clerk then sets a trial date, which could be 3-4 months out. There may be a preliminary hearing. If the other parent does not file an objection within 30 days, the relocation will be permitted. If they do file a timely objection, the primary residential parent may not relocate the children until there is a hearing held on the objection.

If the move is within the child’s current school district or if there is not yet any Parenting Plan or child custody court orders, the Relocation Act does not apply. (RCW 23.09.405)

*Legal Presumption and Opposition:

There is a presumption that a relocating primary residential (custodial) parent will be permitted to relocate the children unless the objecting parent can present evidence that outweighs this presumption.

The objecting parent must demonstrate that the detrimental effect of the relocation overcomes the benefit of the change to the child and the relocating person, based on these eleven statutory factors (RCW 26.09.520). The factors listed are not weighted and no inference is to be drawn from the order in which they are listed.

*Legal Representation:

This process can be emotionally charged, complicated, and extremely stressful. Whether you are proposing relocation or objecting to a relocation proposal, you will need to work closely with a knowledgeable family law attorney who will help you fight for the best interest of yourself and your child(ren).

Decisions you make early on in this process can strongly affect the outcome of your case, making it vital that you involve us as soon as possible. Our family law attorneys are experienced and well-equipped to help navigate your unique situation.

 

*Case Summary Example:

The following is a brief summary of one of our recent family law cases pertaining to relocation:

  • Description: Our client is a dedicated father who came to us after being served with a relocation notification from the other parent. The client was faced with having his child move to the other side of the state, taken out of his school, and away from regular time with his father. After thorough preparation in presenting our client’s case and after arguments and briefing of the issues, we were able to obtain a ruling from the court that our client would be better suited as the primary residential parent. The other parent’s relocation was denied. This was followed by establishing child support for our client from the other parent, given his new status as the primary parent.
  • Outcome:  Relocation was denied and our client became the primary residential parent. We were able to achieve the result that was in the best interest of the child and our client.

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