Washington State Divorce Legal Issues

People approaching Washington divorces are often surprised by the deficiency of clear rules. People ask their lawyers, ” How much alimony do I have to pay?” ”How much child support will I owe?” How long I will have to pay?” How much of my pension does she get?” With very few exceptions, Washington Divorce Online has found that the law itself cannot give you very precise answers to these questions.

Either you and your spouse will negotiate a settlement between yourselves or a judge will determine the arrangements for you. In Washington State divorce cases, there are now formal guidelines that the court must follow in awarding child support. However, on most issues, judges are unfettered to implement their own discretion after hearing evidence, and this discretion extends even to child support guidelines.

You take your chances when you and your spouse go to trial. It can be a roll of the dice. Most judges do their best to be fair and professional, but, like the rest of us, judges are susceptible to their own prejudices and biases. If you don’t like the judge’s decisions you will either learn to live with them or you can appeal to a higher court, but few people ever utilize the appeal process. Appeals are difficult to win because the burden is on the person making the appeal to prove to the higher court that the trial judge misinterpreted the law or abused the discretion permitted the judge by law. Even if you are one of the few who wins on appeal, all you get most of the time is a new trial. The only way to be sure that your Washington divorce meets your needs is for you and your spouse to negotiate the resolution yourselves.

When you negotiate your agreement, you negotiate a contract voluntarily. You sign it voluntarily. You cannot decide that neither of you will support your children, and you cannot subject your children to danger or neglect. But, within very broad limits you are free to decide together, how you will resolve the issues at hand.

Settlement arrangements are negotiated in the shadow of the law. That means, you negotiate with an eye on what you think would happen if you were to go to trial and let the judge decide. Experienced lawyers often think they can predict what would happen at trial. Washington State Divorce lawyers tend to develop a consensus or sense of industry standards about the results of trials. They may agree that the judges “always give the wife half the house” or ” a third of the husbands pension.” They might agree that in a particular case $200.00 a week for child support would be unlikely. Lawyers who have appeared many times before the same judge may acquire useful generalizations. Much of this may be true indeed, but the truth is that you cannot depend on it. You may get a particular judge, or you may get that judge on a bad day, or your lawyer may be wrong. Although most lawyers will sovereignly foretell the outcome in court, few will guarantee you the conclusion. You need to treat such predictions with healthy ske pticism.

Adjusting To Your Divorce

Parenting through divorce presents new and changing relationships for everyone. Adjusting to the process of letting go of the concept of the two-parent family and accepting the idea of new relationships takes time. Take the time to go slow when initiating a new relationship to give children time to deal with different lifestyles and eventually the possibility of an extended family. Rushing into dating may be viewed by your child as competition for your love and attention. Old fears of abandonment may surface as the fantasy dissolves that the divorcing parents will unite. As a result of the divorce, some children lose trust in adults and are slow to accept a new adult into their life. It is important to talk to your children about their feelings and their role in the new step-family. Communication, reassurance, and time will help your child make the needed adjustment.

Before dating, give your children enough time to adjust to the idea that mom and dad will be seeing other people. Make your activities with your date a part of a group function. Starting your social life with friends the children already know may also help them get the point that you are dating. In the beginning of a new relationship, meet your dates away from home to avoid having a number of different people in your home and your child’s life. Your child had lived through difficult changes and should not be asked to adjust to something else this significant unless it is necessary. Choose with care whom you let get close to your family. Before you introduce them, let your children know the nature of your relationship. Begin with a few short outings to take the pressure off forced conversation. If it looks as if the relationship will be long term, outings can gradually become longer. It is important to reassure your children of your love for them. They are less likely to accept someone they perceive as a threat to their relationship with you. It is crucial that they know that the person is not a replacement for their absent parent.

Why Divorce Is So Unfair for Children

Whatever the reason for a couple to divorce, the effects on children can be harmful.

Children love their parents equally and whatever the reasons for a husband and wife to want to end their marriage and go their separate ways, it can not be forgotten how this will impact and affect the children.

Children are hardly ever to blame for a marriage failing. And often they are the innocent victims who lives are completely changed because their parents have decided to split up.

If a marriage is ending because a one of the couple has been unfaithful, the children had no part in this and yet are expected to take sides and willingly accept that their parents will no longer be living together and that the family unit has broken up. Add to this the unimaginable thought of the children having to live with one parent and seeing the other parent on alternate weekends, and you can see how this would badly affect most children especially those who are very small and don’t understand what is going on around them.

Many parents fail to appreciate and understand that their children continue to be affected by this family breakup for many years to come.

Whilst the husband and wife have adapted to being separate, and possibly might have met other partners as time goes on, children still cling on to the hope that their parents might one day get back together again.

They don’t want to see a stranger in their father’s place or another woman with their father. These things can be disruptive especially for young minds and can cause resentment and loathing in children towards the parent who has wronged as well as to the new partners of both parents.

Studies also show that the effects of divorce on young children tend to lead to lower marks at school, mood swings and disruption in the lives of those children whose parents had divorced.

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Divorce

SPEAK OUT OF TURN DURING COURT. Each judge has a system, and that system is their way of maintaining orderliness in their courtroom. Honor the system, or you may damage your credibility with the judge.

#6 ASSUME YOUR SPOUSES SILENCE MEANS AGREEMENT. A woman left her soon-to-be ex-husband a voicemail, telling him she would not sign the Agreed Decree for divorce because its terms were unfair. She requested extra time to file a response. Although her husband did not return her call, she was absolutely certain he would grant her the extra time.

Instead of granting her the extra time, her husband proceeded with forging the womans signature on the Agreed Decree, hoping it would be finalized and he would be able to enforce its unfair terms against the woman.

What is the point of this story? Do not assume your spouses silence means he/she is in agreement with you.

#5 FAIL TO FULLY RETAIN YOUR DIVORCE ATTORNEY. Your divorce case will be fact-intensive and will involve time. Once you get to the half-way point of the divorce process, your attorney will be intricately involved.

Fully retain your attorney, or you may have to find a new attorney, which would set your case back significantly.

#4 USE PROFANITY IN THE COURTROOM. Inside of the courtroom, there is a high level of decorum that the judges bailiff, the judges clerk, and the judge himself will expect you to honor. Refrain from using profanity in the courtroom.

#3 HOLD YOUR CHILD FOR RANSOM. You may have heard of a case like this: Per a Temporary Agreement, mom has custody of her six-year-old son, and dad, who lives out of state, gets him during school breaks and holidays. Everything goes okay until the end of Christmas break, when dad fails to show up at the agreed-upon meeting point to return son to mom. Dad wont return moms frantic phone calls. Dad calls mom the next day, saying son will be living with him, and if she wants to see him again, she will have to agree to new terms.

At the point when dad uttered those words, he committed Contempt of Court. Withholding your child from your spouse in exchange for more favorable terms is against the law and will be punished. Do not hold your child for ransom against your spouse!

#2 DO SOMETHING DRASTIC. Here is a checklist of “drastic” mistakes spouses sometimes make:

Leave a voicemail, or send an e-mail or note to your child, bad-mouthing their mom/dad.

Bribe your child (candy, an X-box 360, etc.) so that the child will tell the judge he wants to live with you.

Hide, or ask a friend to hide, your marital assets.

Hire a friend/co-worker to spy on your spouse.

Forge signatures/documentation.
When in doubt about the proper action, always ask your divorce attorney.

#1 LIE TO THE JUDGE WHILE UNDER OATH.

My Husband Wants a Divorce – Examine Your Role in Your Marriage through Six Questions

My husband wishes for a divorce”; that is a hard fact you have to accept regardless of whether you like it or not. Yet, it doesn’t have to ended that way. Here’s six questions you should consider to help you save your crumbling marriage.

Before the darkness of the night puts her into pensive mood, she looks at the ring around her finger. It was right there at the porch where he proposed to her. No, it wasnt like the movies. He brought nothing else to make the ambiance more romantic but still, she found it the sweetest thing he had done for her. But as she stares at the ring again, a teardrop falls onto her hand. Theyve had big fights recently. Musing on his gestures, justifications and preferences, she concludes, “My husband wants a divorce.”

Giving in to separation seems to be the easiest way out. But a wife who values the sacrament of matrimony will ask herself how she can satisfy her husband in different ways. In evaluating her role in their union, she must answer the questions stated below.

Do you thank him for addressing your familys needs?

Mens role in our society centers on providing for their families. Centuries ago, they go hunting in the forest and bring food for their families. Presently, with our gender fair programs, it may not be as emphasized as before but still, they would like to attain that feeling of accomplishment and pride for attending to the needs of his loved ones.

Do you give him enough silence?

Women tend to talk much more than men. When they are strained, confused or contemplative, they need minutes to think by themselves. Though this makes them difficult to figure out, they consider the quiet time golden. If he doesnt feel like chatting, dont force him. Though he isnt verbally communicating, he is still thinking.

Do you directly say what you want?

Another difference between men and women is how they convey their message. The former are straightforward while the latter beat around the bush. This unlikeness causes serious arguments and worse, it makes some wives say, “My husband wants a divorce.” Refrain from making long introductions or from letting him read between the lines always. Cut your introductions short and dont let him decipher your coded words. As much as you can, dont be ambiguous. You can still do it with tact.

Do you sometimes make the first move in lovemaking?

Lets face the fact that sex is important for men. Women who are boring in bed disappoint them. If you are too tired to make love, all you have to do is explain and be understood. Moreover, men dont want to be in the driving seat always. They want their partners to do their share of first moves as well. By the way, men love sexy underwear.

Do you let him hang out with his friends?

Like women, men need the company of friends. Talking about sports, cars, art and current events over some bottles of booze makes them realize there is a world outside their home. Dont get easily jealous with the time he spends with his friends. Otherwise, hell think you want to control his life.

Custody of Children after a Divorce

Over the course of history women have been given custody of children after a divorce more often than men. This used to be seen almost as an automatic right. This has changed slightly in recent times though, with Fathers given significantly more rights when it comes to looking after children post-divorce. This applies to both custody and visitation rights if their ex-wife has been given custody. A Fathers role in the development of children is taken much more seriously than in previous times. Family Law states that Fathers have equal rights to Mothers and each decision should be made on its specific merits.

Statistics show that women get custody more than men though. What is the reason for this? It could be that there is still some bias towards women by judges, who assume that Mothers make better parents. On the other hand it could just be that Mothers tend to more often be in the position where the children living with them would be more appropriate.

After a divorce there are many factors that are taken into consideration when deciding which parent should get custody of the children. Each parents employment status can be a very important factor. If one parent works full-time and the other doesnt work at all, it may be deemed best that the children live with the parent who does not work. This is because (s)he has more time to be able to devote towards the children. This may be one reason why women gain custody more often than men; it is more common for women to be stay-at-home parents than men, although this is not as common as it once was. A decision is most likely to be based on this reason if the situation was the same when the couple were married, and this parent has spent more time with their children as a consequence. The decision can in some cases be made the other way round, with the parent who does work being deemed to be in a more financially stable situation. This is not always the case because this parent will usually be required to make maintenance payments to help the other parent bring up their children.

The situation each parent finds themselves in and the stability of this situation is also important. This can depends on employment as well as other factors, such as lifestyle. If one parent has medical or psychological problems, then they may not be deemed the best parent to bring up the children. If one parent has re-married it could work either way. It may be seen as a negative to have someone else playing a part in their upbringing so soon after their parents have separated, but it could also be decided that this is a better family environment to bring children up in. A criticism of the system is that too much of the decision comes down to the opinions of a particular judge, and no matter how much Family Law stipulates what should happen, everyone has certain biases.

Andrew Marshall (c)

Divorce Mediation Where to Get Help, Advice and Do-It-Yourself Forms

Remember when …

Breaking up was easy

Okay, maybe it was never easy but it was sure easier than it is when you’ve got kids, mortgages and pension plans together!

Traditional Methods of Resolving Break-Ups:
Scenario 1

-Today, Traditional Methods of “Breaking-Up” typically mean hours and hours in Divorce Court and Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Attorneys Fees
Not to mention the Emotional Wreckage to Parents AND their children

-Outrageous Fees
Think about it – every time you have to go to court, that’s at least 2 hours of attorney time at $250 per hour
That’s $500 EACH party pays for each of 3-4 court appearances NOT including the final hearing

-But Wait – There’s More
So that’s 2 hours per court appearance times 4 court appearances = 8 hours + 8 hours for the final hearing (16 hours total)
Then, for every hour IN court there are probably 2 hours spent preparing for court (another 32 hours – that’s 48 total EACH)
$10,000+ (add to that fees paid to experts – experts about the children, about finances)

-Meanwhile …
You talk to your lawyer, who talks to the Judge, the other lawyer and the “experts”
The former “love-of-your-life” talks to their lawyer, who talks to the Judge, the other lawyer and the “experts”
The Judge, who has known you for all of a day (maybe) determines your fate and your children’s fate
Oh, and notice who aren’t talking to one another – the only two adults who aren’t being paid to be there – the only two who are ultimately responsible for the children

Scenario 2
-Do-It-Yourself Method
The forms aren’t the easiest things to fill out
If you slip up and fail to properly define something or forget to put something in the paperwork – Guess What?!?
Do Not Pass Go – Go straight back to Scenario 1(you’d be shocked how often this happens)

Is there any other way?

Yes
The Petovero Method(TM)
Divorce and Child Custody Resolutions
made easy

We use a unique process that includes mediation and that deals with all the aspects a person has to contend with when there are children, or assets, or debts involved

We focus on results while generating an environment that reduces the impact on the parties, and, perhaps more importantly, on the children

There’s an old saying: Criminal Lawyers See Bad People at their Best and Divorce Lawyers See Good People at their Worst.

We help good people invent a new life, that nurtures them and their children and facilitates the return of productivity, fun and play.
Go to petovero.com for more information

PETOVERO.COM

Mediation in Divorce and Family Law Cases

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

In many states, mediation has gone from being an option to help resolve issues to a mandatory part of the court proceedings. That is particularly true in cases that involve divorce or custody disputes.

Mediation is called an alternative dispute resolution process. In short it provides you with an alternative to Court to create your own agreements and craft your own orders without submitting those matters to the Judge. This is often a preferred way to resolve disputes in a divorce. The alternative is to proceed to Court and allow a Judge, a complete stranger to you and your children, to hear a few short arguments and testimony and decide your fate. Often such orders may seem like pounding round pegs into square holes with out understanding fully the individual circumstances of the parties. Clearly that is in no one’s best interest and often leads to the long roller coaster ride through court with each party filing new motions year in and year out to change the rulings that the Judge has made.

By contrast, mediation teaches the parties to communicate and to work through their issues productively. In the process, the parties to work with a neutral expert to resolve their disputes in a way that works for them. A mediator is also known as a qualified neutral.

The mediator may be a lawyer, a therapist, a religious leader or other qualified individual. As part of the mediation process, the mediator will not provide either party with legal advice and, instead, will work with the parties on their communication skills to understand the other parties position.

Often mediators will encourage the parties to incorporate into the proceedings other experts to help them in the decision making process,. This may involve the use of appraisers to value a home, accountants and investment counselors to address financial aspects, or a parenting consultant to work through custody and parenting issues. By using one neutral expert, the parties may save thousand of dollars that would be spent for each party to hire their own expert only to remain at an impasse with different results.

WHAT TYPES OF DISPUTES CAN BE RESOLVED THRU MEDIATION?

Mediation can be a useful tool for almost any issue that you encounter in family court. Even the most acrimonious divorces can benefit from mediation by helping the parties resolve some, if not all of their disputes, thereby simplifying the issues to be resolved through the court process.

Mediation may resolve:

disputes between divorcing parties including custody issues, spousal maintenance and property issues;

paternity issues;

restraining order issues.

WHY SHOULD I MEDIATE?

1.Mediation is available any time both parties are willing to engage in the process, even if they are already involved in a contested court case;

2.Mediation is LESS EXPENSIVE than going to court with both parties to the dispute sharing the cost;

How does Legal Separation differ from Divorce

Legal separation is where a married couple legally separate without getting divorced. During this legal process decisions regarding children (such as custody, visitation rights and maintenance payments) and financial issues (such as debt, mortgages and assets) are decided upon. It is really an official separation, going further than simply living apart but not as far as getting a divorce. After a legal separation a couple are still legally married but live separate lives. They are formally living apart and the courts may be used if there are any disputes.

In some ways a legal separation is like a divorce, with the most obvious reason being that the couple are not living together. If a couple have children similar arrangements need to be made as they would were they divorcing, either through agreement or through the courts. Where each spouse lives and who pays for it needs to be established as does who has access to shared funds or assets.

So, why do couples choose legal separation instead of just getting divorced? Some opt for this because they dont like the idea of getting divorced, possibly for religious reasons or they dont want the stigma of being divorced. Often couples use legal separation as a trial to see if they would like to stay together or divorce. It gives them time and space to make a decision. They may find that living apart makes them realise they miss each other and want things to return to the way they were, or they may want to be separated permanently. Sometimes legal separation leads to divorce, sometimes it leads to reconciliation and sometimes they remain separated without getting divorced.

Although some couples remain separated for good without divorcing, this is fairly rare. If they are not going to remain together as a couple most will prefer to cut their ties with each other. Another important consideration is that while still married, they are unable to marry anyone else.

So, is legal separation necessary or can couples simply live separately without the legal process? Well, they can if they wish, but it is not always that simple. Whether that is preferable depends on an individual couples situation and preferences. Legal separation can be more complex in some ways due to the legal processes that must be gone through. But, on the other hand, it can also simplify things as they will both know where they stand on certain issues.

Beatrice Sareen (c)

Landlord and Tenant Law – The Importance of A Written Tenancy Agreement

Does a Tenancy Have to Be in Writing? Under the Law of Property Act 1925 and the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1989 any contract for the creation of an interest in land is invalid and unenforceable unless it is do so in writing. Interest in land would include mortgages, sales and transfers, charges or leases. The exception to this rule is that an oral lease may be created so long as it is;

* For the best rent reasonably obtainable (i.e. a market rent) * For a period of less than 3 years

This means that a tenancy can generally be created by verbal a agreement, although this isn’t advisable as verbal contracts would be difficult to prove and if the relationship between the landlord and the tenant breaks down, an expensive court proceeding may be have to take place in the absence of clear and unambiguous terms. This is why a written tenancy agreement is therefore in the best interests of both the landlord and the tenant.

Written Statement of Terms At the moment every residential tenancy is presumed to be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy unless there is an agreement that states otherwise. Tenancies of this type are subject to special rules.

When there is no written tenancy agreement, section 20A of the Housing Act 1988 provides that the tenant is entitled to be provided on demand with a written statement setting out the following terms of the tenancy:

* Term or length of the tenancy

* Date on which the tenancy commenced

* Dates on which rent is payable

* The rent due under the tenancy

The landlord is required by law to provide this statement within 28 days of receiving written notice from the tenant. Any failure to comply with the requirements of this act wil be classed as a criminal offence and if a landlord fails provide the requested statement within 28 days, they may be convicted and fined up to 2,500.

What Should I Put In The Tenancy Agreement? The information on dates and rent payments that landlords are obliged to provide the tenant under the Housing Act, a tenancy agreement will usually include provisions which relate to the following:

* Details of additional bills & service charges

* Inspections

* Procedure for ending the tenancy and resolving disputes

* Procedure for varying the rent

* Responsibility for maintenance

* Restrictions on the use of the property

In all tenancies, the tenant will have a number of basic rights which cannot be taken away or restricted, and any provision of the tenancy agreement which attempts to do so will become invalid. Where one provision or term of a contract such as a tenancy is found to be invalid, other provisions which refer or relate to that term may be unenforceable. Because of this, care should be taken when drafting a tenancy agreement and you may want to consult a professional.

If you own several properties which you rent out, it may be more cost-effective for you to ask a lawyer to draft you a standard-form tenancy agreement which you can customise for each individual property rather than consulting a solicitor for each individual tenancy.