Celebrate Pride!

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 fervently supports marriage and relationship equality. Regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, 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. Along 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.

There are other child custody issues or disputes that may arise for same-sex parents as well. The 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 orientation or gender identity.

Divorce for Same-Sex Couples:

Once again, since same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State in December 2012there 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.

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

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 prior blog post for detailed information about committed intimate relationships, your rights, and important factors to consider.


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 especially 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
  • Premarital Agreements
  • Property Division

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

I don’t think I am getting enough child support – what can I do?

If you are concerned that you are not receiving the appropriate amount of child support, we encourage you to:

  • Understand the basics about child support modification law
  • Assess whether anything has changed since the original order. This may include            your child’s needs or the financial status of one or both parents
  • Consult with an experienced family law attorney


Child Support Modifications

In Washington State, the law allows parents to petition for a child support modification to accommodate changes in circumstances. The primary Washington State child support modification statute is RCW 26.09.170.

A Washington State child support modification is the legal process by which an Order of Support is adjusted to reflect the current finances of both parents. It is very common that child support orders should require adjustments in order to keep up with the growing needs of the children and to accurately account for the changing circumstances of the parents.

Either parent may petition for a modification as long as the requirements of RCW 26.09.170 are met.

Child support orders that have been in place for less than a year may not be modified unless there is proof of a substantial change in circumstances that can be provided by the petitioner.

Examples of factors that may serve as the basis for a petition to modify a child support obligation include:

  • The age of the child(ren)
  • Changes in income of one or both parents
  • A child wishing to attend college after high school
  • Changes in residential schedule
  • Work-related daycare costs
  • Medical insurance costs
  • Extraordinary medical expenses
  • The number of children in the household

The statute provides for a review and potential adjustment of child support every two years. If 24 months have passed from the date of the entry of the child support order or since the last modification (whichever is latest), the order may be adjusted without a showing of substantially changed circumstances. The adjustment is based upon:

  • Changes in the income of the parents; or
  • Changes in the economic table or standards listed in RCW 26.19


Legal Representation

Our Family Law Attorneys are skilled and experienced in representing parents who are petitioning for child support modifications. We recognize that these cases can be complex and emotional for everyone involved and we urge you to call us to consult about your unique case. We will advise you about whether or not you have the substantial change of circumstances required to seek a child support modification. We will help obtain the outcome that is in the best interest of you and your children. Contact us today for a Free Consultation .

7 things to do BEFORE you file for divorce or move out

Dissolving a union that was intended to 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.

7 things to do BEFORE you file for divorce or move out:

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. Consider your legal options

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. 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.

4. Establish financial independence

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

5. 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. Be prepared to talk to your children about what is happening. Listen to them and ensure they have adequate, appropriate support with other family members, at school, and/or with a counselor.

6. 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.

7. 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.

I’m moving in with my partner. What should I know? What precautions should I take?

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 Washington 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 Free Consultation.

Surviving Valentine’s Day after Divorce or Separation

Valentine’s Day decorations have been rampant for over a month now. Reminders are everywhere of this holiday for celebrating love and romance. Sounds great, right? NOT for everyone…

If you are recently divorced or somewhere in the process of divorce or separation, this can be a particularly painful time of year. You might experience feelings of failure, increased stress, loneliness, or sadness anticipating this day that is all about love and happiness. You might be dreading Valentine’s Day!

We want to acknowledge that this may be a challenging time for some of our clients and many others out there. It is widely known that more than 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. While this is an unfortunate truth, at least there can be some comfort in knowing you are not alone.

If you are recently divorced or separated and feeling the sting of Valentine’s Day, please consider some of our strategies for making the most of it this year. Who knows? Maybe you can find some happiness and fulfillment afterall:

  1. *Treat yourself. Buy yourself a gift. Whether it is your favorite dessert, a new outfit, or something more extravagant, buy yourself something that brings you joy. Treat yourself to a feel-good day. Hit the spa, your favorite restaurant, go see a great movie, or stay in and watch a marathon of your favorite show. Love yourself and treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated. This is an important time to engage in self-care.
  2. *Give! Rather than focusing on not receiving gifts, choose to be a giver this year. Plan to give small, meaningful gifts to people that you care about. Show them your love! You may also consider giving your time through volunteer work. Giving is good for the soul.
  3. *Spend time with a friend. Plan to have lunch or a night out with a friend or a group of friends. Chances are you are not the only single person in your life. Get together with someone you enjoy and appreciate some good conversation.
  4. *Focus on the kids. If you have children, put your energy into making it a special day for them and showing them your love. Do something fun together and put focus on how Valentine’s Day is a day to show love to family. Focus on the other kinds of love in your life rather than on lost romantic love.
  5. *Be active. Use physical activity to release stress and tension. Go for a hike or a run. Find a yoga class. Ride your bike. Go dancing. Find something you can do alone or get a friend on board. Either way, doing something physical is a great way to release energy and endorphins on Valentine’s Day.
  6. *Laugh!  Whether with friends, with your children, or on your own, find humor and allow yourself laughter. Laughter is healing and reduces stress. Make this a priority.
  7. *Remember that you WILL survive. You made it through the December holidays and New Year’s and you will get through this too. Valentine’s Day is over-hyped anyway!

There is plenty of love to go around. Focus on showing love to your friends, your family, and most importantly to yourself!

Divorce: Will my spouse take my 401k?


Short answer: It depends!

Working out the financial details is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. Even in an amicable divorce, division of assets and debt can be extremely stressful. When there is conflict and debate, stress and emotion can rise to very uncomfortable levels.

It is essential that you work with a skilled family law attorney who will help you navigate this process, negotiate on your behalf and protect your best interests.

Washington is a community property state, as defined in RCW 26.16. Any money you earn and any property you acquire during your marriage is considered community property and subject to division. This means it belongs to both of you regardless of the name on the account if it was acquired during the marriage and is subject to division along just and equitable lines. Keep in mind that property may include real estate, vehicles, investments, business interests, financial holdings, pensions, and more. Similarly, all debts accrued during the course of your marriage are also considered to be community and subject to division. There may be exceptions as to what is considered community versus separate property, and it is important to have a solid understanding of how your property will be characterized. Your family law attorney can advise you around these complex distinctions.

“What about my 401k?”

What the law deems separate property is fairly limited. As described in RCW 26.16.010, separate property includes property owned by a spouse before the marriage and that acquired afterward by gift, bequest, devise, descent, or inheritance.

Unless otherwise designated in as separate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, that pretty much covers it. Regardless of “ownership”, anything else you or your spouse have acquired during marriage is generally considered to be community property.

This means the 401k is fair game to become part of the divorce settlement and divided, per Washington State, along “just and equitable” lines. It is recommended that you work with a family law attorney who will help to prepare and inform you of your legal rights and options in this process.

“How will it be divided?”

As with other aspects of your divorce, it is best for you and your ex to come to a property division agreement on your own, including the 401k. You may agree to split the 401k earnings equally or in a way that feels equitable to your unique situation. Alternately, you may agree that you will keep your 401k and your spouse will receive other marital earnings comparable in value.  If both spouses have 401ks, you may agree to each keep your own. If there is a significant discrepancy in balance, you may opt to split them each in half.

There are any number of ways you and your spouse may decide to divide things. In the case where an agreement can be reached, parties may divide their property and debts any way they mutually choose.

However, if you and your ex-spouse cannot agree, you are essentially forcing the court to decide who gets to keep what. When the court is making the determination, they will consider the type and amount of each property, the length of the marriage, and each spouse’s current economic circumstance. The court will then issue an order of asset and debt division.

“Can I protect my 401k?”

You can protect yourself by understanding the law in Washington and getting quality representation to help guide you through a divorce strategically and efficiently.

You can also protect your 401k and other assets through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

There is a fair amount of social stigma attached to prenuptial agreements, but we strongly advise to consider putting one in place prior to your marriage. If you did not, it is never too late to do a post-nuptial agreement if you both want to make sure that you and not a court will decide what happens to your accounts in the event of a divorce.

As much as a marriage is a public declaration of love and commitment, it is a financial partnership, endorsed by the government and involving certain rights and responsibilities. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular. This is not because people are assuming their marriage will end in divorce, but because they are choosing to be prepared for all outcomes and protecting themselves and their separate property.

In a pre- or postnuptial agreement, you can designate that your 401k will be considered your separate property in the event of a divorce.

If it is too late and your facing divorce without a prenup, be sure you are working with a knowledgeable and savvy family law attorney. Our attorneys will advocate for your best interests and help you to protect your assets wherever possible.

Is Divorce Your New Year’s Resolution?

As 2016 comes to an end, many are contemplating New Year’s resolutions. If nothing else, it 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.

As we enter 2017, divorce is undoubtedly 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 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 Free Consultation.

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. This time enduring such a difficult emotional experience may amplify feelings of loneliness 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 this week 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 are 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.

Divorce: What about the family home?

By nature, divorce is difficult and sad, usually affecting multiple parties in devastating ways. There are so many aspects of life that are impacted by divorce, and a plethora of painful emotions.

Among the affected aspects of life is the matter of living arrangements. For many families, it is more than just sorting out who lives where. Determining what to do with the family home can be an immense, emotional challenge.

For most families, the family home is the biggest asset. It is often the most valuable item for consideration, both financially and sentimentally.

The family home may hold countless memories, significant milestones for the children, holiday gatherings, and immeasurable sentimental value. These memories may feel bittersweet at the time of divorce, but making a careful decision about what to do with the home is essential. Our family law attorneys can help you decide the best way to leverage your most valuable asset.

Some of the possible scenarios are as follows, but we understand that each situation is unique. Financial and logistical considerations must be weighed, alongside the emotional.

1 – Selling the house:   This may seem like the cleanest and fairest way to go for many families both logistically and emotionally. There are expenses to be considered, including potential capital gains owed and brokers’ commissions. These will generally be shared between the divorcing spouses. Otherwise, any earnings from the sale can be split and routed to each spouse’s separate account.

2 – One spouse keeps the house:  One spouse may be in a position financially where it is in their best interest to keep the house. They may need to buy out their ex and they will need to refinance the mortgage in their own name. The amount of the buy-out can be negotiated, but should be based on an appraisal agreed upon by both parties. If you are buying-out a spouse or agreeing to a buy-out, be sure you are being advised appropriately by a family law attorney and a financial planner.

3 – The children keep the house:  Some divorcing spouses are attempting an approach called “nesting”, where the children stay in the family home and the divorced spouses come and go. Couples might rent separate apartments for their time away from the home, or they might rent a place together, depending on the relationship and the arrangement. The goal is to provide stability for the children.

Financially, there is no home sale to contend with, but there are likely financial considerations in terms of where the off-duty parents are staying. Divorcing couples are already contending with other layers of financial and emotional discord, and this may provide an opportunity to hold off on selling the home until the dust settles.

Emotionally, this is a complicated way to go. The Wall Street Journal published an article that describes this practice and many of the implications. The article notes that mental health providers caution against this arrangement, suggesting that this is a time for divorcing spouses to establish their own new lives and routines, and in this scenario their privacy is thwarted. This makes it very challenging for divorcees to move on, and it may be ultimately more confusing and upsetting for the children. Please see the WSJ article for a more thorough analysis.

4 – Both spouses keep the house:  Another scenario involves divorcing spouses maintaining the home as a joint asset. They may decide to put it up for rent, one spouse may continue residing in the home as part of the financial agreement, or it may sit empty. This is a challenging scenario and success is largely dependent upon the divorcing couple’s relationship. You would have to continue to depend upon and trust your ex-spouse to some degree, in order to remain so attached to them financially post-divorce.


Each individual situation is unique and complex in its own way and there really is no right answer. As you are flooded with emotions and trying to separate these emotions to make smart financial decisions, we urge you to not try and tackle this alone.

It is essential that you work with a skilled, knowledgeable family law attorney during this time, who will advocate for your best interests and for a division of assets that you feel is equitable. Our attorneys are very well experienced in this area and we are here to help. Please contact us for a Free Consultation.


I just got served with divorce papers…. Now what?

Whether you saw it coming or it was a complete surprise, being presented with the evidence of your spouse pursuing divorce is never easy. If you have just been served with divorce papers, you are at very least overwhelmed and you are likely flooded with a myriad of emotions. We have highlighted some of the essential steps to take if you are served with divorce papers:

1) Emotional support: Maybe you are feeling confused, angry, anxious, conflicted, scared, or even relieved. It is important to attend to your overwhelming emotions and 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) Response date: Read the divorce petition thoroughly. You can hash out the legalese later with your attorney, but pay close attention to the due date for response. This is a very important deadline.

3) Legal representation: Choose an experienced, knowledgeable family law attorney to help you navigate this process. Don’t waste time before securing legal representation – get moving on this within the first week. Even in the most “simple” of divorces, there are various nuances that can occur and you need a skilled family law attorney in your corner to help ensure the most optimal outcome in your case.

4) Your response: Work with your attorney on your response, to be submitted before the due date listed on the divorce petition. Remember that Washington is a no-fault divorce state. Both spouses do not have to agree with the divorce for it to be granted by the court and the court does not need to designate fault or blame.

5) Consider your children: Be mindful of how a significant family change may affect your children. Keep the peace as much as possible, for your children’s benefit. Resist involving them in the turmoil and prioritize their best interests. Do be prepared to talk to your children about what is happening. In addition to listening to them, you should be aware of warning signs that they are not coping well (significant mood changes, isolation, physical symptoms, substance abuse, etc.). Ensure they have adequate, appropriate support, with other family members, at school, and/or with a counselor.

6) Consider your assets: Division of property and debt can be particularly contentious, as we often place both emotional and financial value on our belongings. How property is ultimately divided can have long lasting impacts, in terms of your financial stability and lifestyle. These impacts can affect your life long after the divorce proceedings are finished, and what property division is determined upon divorce is very unlikely to be reversed later. It is essential that you work with a skilled, knowledgeable attorney during this time, who will advocate for your own best interests and for a division of assets that you feel is equitable.

Choosing to end a relationship that was meant to be forever is painful and difficult, and you should not try to tackle it alone. We hope you will consider contacting our skillful team of experienced family law attorneys. We are prepared to help you navigate the process, offer sound legal advice and counsel, and ultimately reach a resolution.


Contact Dellino Law Group

High caliber legal representation for DUI, Criminal Defense, Divorce, Family Law, Traffic Violations, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kent, Redmond, Bremerton, Poulsbo, Lynnwood, Everett, Marysville, Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Brier, Sammamish, Renton, Burien, Monroe, Issaquah, Lakewood, Puyallup, Port Orchard, and all of King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, and Thurston County.