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Divorce, legal separation and annulment
Divorce (which is known in the state of Washington as "the dissolution of marriage"), legal separation, and annulment (which is known in the state of Washington as a "declaration of invalidity of marriage") are three separate legal procedures by which marital relationships are ended. We are very experienced in all aspects of these types of cases.
Parenting plans, custody and visitation
As part of divorce, legal separation or annulment, parenting plans are necessary for the well-being of children. The terms custody and visitation are not generally used in the state of Washington; they are included within the concept of the parenting plan. Parenting plans are specific to each family. They are based on children's needs and parents' beliefs about those needs. When parents fail to agree to a parenting plan, a court will order a parenting plan that it believes is in the best interests of the children.
When one spouse needs financial support during the transition from marriage to separation, and the other spouse can afford to provide it, spousal maintenance may be appropriate for a reasonable length of time. There are no objective standards for computing the amount or duration of spousal maintenance in Washington. For this reason, it is a very challenging issue.
Orders of child support are required whenever there are dependent children. Child support in Washington is based on the parents' incomes and the Washington State Child Support Schedule.
Prenuptial and cohabitation agreements
Many couples wish to clarify their financial rights and responsibilities before marriage by the preparation of a prenuptial agreement. Washington is a community property state. The law presumes that all property acquired during marriage will be community property. That presumption can be changed, and separate property can be protected, by a prenuptial agreement. Each agreement is personal to the couple that enters into it. The agreement may be simple, or may be quite detailed.
When unmarried partners have children and then separate, their relationships can become very difficult. Their rights and responsibilities with respect to their children will be unclear without court orders. Unmarried couples' rights and responsibilities regarding property and debt are not well defined in Washington. One person may have no right in the other person's property and no responsibility for the other person's debt. However, if a marital-like or meretricious relationship exists, the rights and responsibilities may be almost the same as a married couple. A meretricious relationship is similar to the concept of common law marriage that is recognized by many states. In other cases, there are equitable principals that support a property division.
Property and debt
Property and debt must be identified, valued, and equitably divided, often by special orders such as qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs), which divide pension benefits. We are fully qualified to handle these types of cases.
Final property and debt divisions cannot be modified. Parenting plans, orders of spousal maintenance, and child support may be subject to modification when there is a substantial change of circumstances. A final order that is not clear may also be subject to clarification by the court.
Third party custody
Grandparents, aunts, and uncles are more frequently raising their grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. The harsh reality is that some parents' attraction or addiction to drugs, alcohol, or crime supersedes their ability to parent. In some cases, a parent may be capable of only limited parenting because of his or her own youth or disability. We are experienced in representing relatives who wish to protect a child, while also preserving family relationships, by using a simple power of attorney for the care of a child, by establishing a guardianship of a minor, by filing a legal action for third party custody, or by an open adoption.
Parent-child relationships are of fundamental constitutional importance in American law and are of fundamental social and emotional importance to the parent and to the child. New and permanent parent-child relationships can be formed by adoption.
At the office of Paul Battan, Attorney at Law, we are honored that we are trusted by our clients to help them with the most difficult matters which affect their lives every day.
Specific Areas of Practice for our Tumwater office: