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Spokane Family Law Blog

Can stepparents obtain child custody rights in Washington?

It may be rare that a stepparent is awarded custodial rights in any state, including here in Washington. However, it does happen under extenuating circumstances. The State of Washington recognizes what is termed a "de facto" relationship and has, since an important Supreme Court ruling in 2004, awarded custody to the party or parties which would serve the best interests of the child, regardless of biological or psychological relationship

In terms of stepparents' rights, a de facto parent is essentially someone who can be shown, through convincing evidence, to be the primary caregiver for a child in both a physical and financial sense. A court will look at factors including the status of the biological parents and whether the potential "de facto" parent shares a home with the child. In addition, the court will consider whether the "de facto" parent acts as a parent without any expectation of compensation, and how long that parent has been acting as a parent in terms of forming a lasting bond with the child.

What can you do when your ex denies your visitation time?

For many parents, the hardest thing about going through a divorce is having reduced time with their children. When your spouse has custody during the divorce, he or she could refuse to allow you reasonable visitation or parenting time. That can leave you feeling isolated and angry. Thankfully, state law in Washington protects your rights as a parent, including your right to a relationship with your children.

There are a few exceptions, including cases of abuse, abandonment, addiction or other extenuating circumstances that can impact parental rights. For example, physical or sexual abuse of the children could preclude receiving visitation or parenting time. Barring any of these more extreme circumstances, however, most parents have the right to enjoy an ongoing relationship with their children, even if their ex has custody of the children.

Legal separation vs. divorce: what is the difference?

What is the difference in a legal separation and divorce? In short, the answer is that in a legal separation you are still married, and in a divorce you are not. Other than that, the two are essentially the very same thing, accomplished by the very same process and forms.

So why then, would anyone choose a legal separation? Most people think it is because there is a chance of reconciliation between the parties, and they think of the separation as just a "trial period." This is not always the case. For instance, consider a divorce of parties who are in their 70's, who will very likely never get married again.

How to make sure you get fair parenting time with your kids

The hardest thing about divorce for many parents is no longer being with your kids all the time. You can miss out on holidays, sports successes or even more mundane moments, like losing a tooth. You want as much time as possible with your children. Chances are, you're asking for shared custody in your divorce. That's a great first step toward ensuring a positive, ongoing relationship with your children during and after your divorce.

Going through a divorce, especially when you and your spouse do not agree on critical terms like asset division and child custody, is rough. Thankfully, things can be a little easier if you focus on your children and protecting them from the worst fallout of the process. If you and your spouse can agree to put the children first, you may be able to get through the process with a fair custody arrangement. If not, you may have to push to maintain your relationship with your kids.

Is a collaborative divorce right for me?

By the time some married couples make it to the divorce attorney, they can't even be in the same room without an argument. If that is you, then a collaborative divorce may not be the best path for addressing the many issues that come up during the divorce process. However, when spouses can go into a divorce on mutual terms, and are able to discuss matters amicably, then a collaborative divorce becomes a great option.

In a traditional divorce, spouses would each retain their own attorney. Discovery would be performed via questions and answers, as well as subpoenaed documents. A trial would then be set, and the parties would meet in a courtroom where a judge would oversee decisions on everything from property division, to custody and to visitation rights.

Prohibited marriages may be annulled in Washington

The state of Washington places restrictions upon whom a person may legally marry. Although same-sex marriages are now legal throughout the entire United States, certain unions are banned by the laws of the state. This post will discuss some of those prohibited unions and will also briefly introduce the topic of annulment.

In Washington, a person is prohibited from marrying another person if they are already married. In order for a second marriage to occur, the party must first finalize a divorce from their first spouse; a person may not have multiple spouses through two legal marriages.

So, your child wants to live with the other parent: 3 tips

A divorce is hard on a family when it's taking place, and it's potentially difficult for families later on, long after the paperwork is filed. When children are involved, divorce quickly becomes complex and has the potential to have complications into the future.

One of the problematic things that you could run into is if your child wants to change where he or she lives. It might be devastating to you, as a parent, if your son decides that he wants to live with his mother or if your daughter wants to live with her father. Whatever the situation is in your case, there are a few things you should know about your child's decision to change residency.

A summary divorce may be all you need to move forward

A summary divorce is possible if you meet certain qualifications. For this kind of divorce, you'll need to have no contested factors in your situation. For example, if you want to obtain spousal support, you won't be able to obtain a summary dissolution.

To qualify for a summary divorce or dissolution, you'll need to show that you were married five years or less. Additionally, you cannot have any children. If you have a home or mortgage payment, then this kind of divorce is not right for you. In your case, you'll want to have a more complete divorce to address your home's value and how it should be divided in divorce.

What information is required to file for divorce in Washington?

As in other American jurisdictions, the State of Washington requires individuals who wish to file for divorce to provide certain pieces of information in their divorce pleadings. This post will discuss the requirements that the divorce plaintiff or initial petitioner must meet; readers of this blog are reminded that they should seek their own legal advice as they prepare to file for divorce to ensure all of the legal requirements applicable to their cases are met.

In order for a party to file for divorce in Washington, they must be a resident of the state or must be a service member stationed within Washington. In their pleading, the plaintiff must state where and when they married their spouse and where each resides at the time of the divorce filing. If the plaintiff and their spouse share children, then the initial pleading must state the children's names and ages and the petitioner must also include information on any separation that they and their spouse are undertaking.

Alimony and child support have different tax consequences

When the members of a family live together and the parents of the family work and earn incomes, generally the money they bring in is pooled together for the support and maintenance of everyone in the household. However, when parents separate or divorce and divide their incomes to support two different households, the financial maintenance of the family's members can become more subject to change. In Washington and other American jurisdictions, courts can assign some parties to pay child support and spousal support, also called alimony, for the care of those individuals who no longer live in the payers' homes.

How those payments are classified can make a big impact, though, on whether they are tax deductible for the paying party. For example, alimony or spousal support can be tax deductible for the paying party and included in the income of the recipient if it is for cash or a cash equivalent, given pursuant to a divorce order or agreement, paid to one's ex and meets several other criteria.

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