In Washington, people who are not the biological parents of a child can be given parental rights under a legal doctrine established by case law over the last decade or so. The "de facto parent" doctrine was first introduced in the context of a same-sex divorce that involved a child. Since then, it has been expanded to anyone who can meet all four prongs of a test laid down by the Washington Supreme Court.
Divorce, unfortunately, always carries the possibility of having negative effects on the children involved. And most often, divorcing parents want to act in the best interests of their children. When the parents have a good relationship, they may consider a "handshake" child custody arrangement in order to do "what's best" for the children. In Washington, as in any other state, this is not the best idea.
A divorce or separation of domestic partners can be stressful - especially if it creates an extreme financial disparity between the spouses or partners. For example, if one party was the primary breadwinner and the other didn't work out of the home or perhaps had few marketable job skills, the latter may find him- or herself in relatively poor financial circumstances. In the state of Washington, a maintenance order can help to equalize such disparities.
People in Washington whose marriages are ending may wonder what their financial future will hold. After all, after the divorce is complete they will be living on a single income, and they may have been dealt a certain amount of the marital debt. Moreover, they will be responsible for their life expenses -- shelter, food, clothing, utilities and more -- all on their own. The whole situation may seem rather daunting. However, couples in Washington should note that there are financial benefits one could experience after divorce.
Parents in Washington are under an obligation to support their child. Whether they are married, divorced, in a relationship or separated, both of a child's parents must see to it that the child has food, clothing, shelter and more. A child deserves to get a proper education, to engage in extracurricular activities, to have ways to be entertained, and more. Therefore, when a parent in Washington is ordered to pay child support, and fails to do so, there could be negative consequences.
Divvying up assets in a same-sex divorce is proving to be a difficult task in some cases. In a heterosexual divorce, there is almost always a definitive date of which the parties began to share assets. Therefore, a judge can use that date by which to determine ownership of different assets.
Military service members, both active duty and retired, have access to what is known as a Survivor's Benefit Plan (SBP). Deducted monthly from military pay, these plans are funded by the government in part, and by the military member in remainder. If a service member chooses not to have an SBP, then all benefits will cease upon his or her death.
Washington State does not require mediation in a divorce. It does, however, give the courts the authority to order mediation.
In a standard civilian divorce, the case is filed with the court in the county where the married couple last lived. If the filer, as well as the spouse, have moved out of that county, then the case can be filed in the county in which the filer currently resides. Regarding the state of filing, a civilian divorce case should be filed in the state in which a married couple resided for at least six months of the preceding year. However, these rules are different in a military divorce.
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