Seattle Divorce Lawyer

Filing For Divorce In Seattle

Even though the probability of getting a divorce is widely reported, when it happens to you, it feels nothing like being a statistic. You may feel disappointed and upset at the least, or devastated and overwhelmed at the most. Learning about your legal options, finding an experienced divorce attorney and working with your spouse as much as possible to find areas of agreement can go a long way toward making the transition as smooth as possible.

Contact An Attorney Today!

To learn more about divorce in Washington, contact us today to schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney. We represent clients in cities throughout the Seattle metropolitan area including, but not limited to Tacoma, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Lynnwood and Redmond.

Divorce And Children

When spouses with children divorce, they will need to come to an agreement on child custody matters, which impacts the amount of child support that may be owed, and develop a parenting plan. It is important to note that biological children and adopted children are treated the same. If you and your spouse cannot agree on child support, child custody and visitation issues, the court will decide on your behalf and in the best interests of the children.

Child Custody

There are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Either of these can be joint custody or sole custody. Unless there are issues related to abuse or domestic violence, legal custody is most often shared. Some physical custody arrangements include:

  • Joint custody. Child spends every other week with each parent and alternate holidays and vacation time.
  • Joint custody. Child spends six months with one parent, and then six months with the other.
  • Sole custody. Child spends every other weekend with the noncustodial parent, with a weeknight visit on the alternating weeks and alternating holidays and vacation times.
  • Out-of-state noncustodial parent. Child spends one weekend per month with the noncustodial parent, plus summer vacation.

Child Support

Child support is based on a formula set by the state of Washington. It uses both parents’ gross incomes and considers the percentage that each parent contributed to the total gross income, as well as the number of children and their ages.

Either parent could be required to pay child support. Using round numbers, if the combined gross monthly income of the parents is $5,000, then the total amount of child support owed for one child between the ages of 12 and 18 is $912. If parent A earns $4,000 of that gross amount (80 percent) then parent A would owe 80 percent of $912 which is $729.60.

There are a number of child support calculators available; however, for an accurate estimation it would be a wise idea to consult with an attorney.

Child Custody Modifications

When ex-spouses experience a significant life change, it may be enough to make a post-divorce modification necessary. A post-divorce modification or child custody modification changes the terms of the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Reasons for a post-divorce modification include:

  • Loss of employment
  • Major health issues for either ex-spouse
  • Health issues for a dependent child
  • Long-distance relocation
  • Remarriage

Parent Relocation

The court does not permit the custodial parent to relocate without court approval. Even when a noncustodial parent wishes to move, the court may need to approve a post-divorce modification which would change the visitation arrangements and potentially the spousal support or other terms. Under no circumstances should you consider taking the children to another state without court approval.

Typically the court will only approve the relocation or child custody changes if it is in the child’s best interest. Consult with an attorney if you or your ex-spouse is considering this option.

Division Of Marital Property

The division of marital property can be a simple matter, or highly complicated if there are premarital assets or you are a high net worth couple. As with child custody, the court prefers that the couple reach an agreement together. If you and your spouse cannot come to terms, then the court will make a decision on your behalf.

Alimony Or Spousal Support

Either the husband or wife can seek alimony or spousal support. When this is a contentious issue, the court will make a decision for either temporary, short-term or long-term alimony. The court will look at the following factors:

  • Each requesting party’s age and health
  • The ability of the paying party to meet the payment request amount
  • The amount of time needed for the requesting party to become self-sufficient
  • The length of the marriage
  • The lifestyle during the marriage
  • The requesting party’s financial resources

Property Division

In Seattle, Washington, as in many other areas of the country, marital property is considered community property and is divided equitably. Equitable is not the same as equal, and the court may award more of the property to the lower-income or nonworking spouse if the marriage is of significant length. The court will consider many of the same factors as those considered when making alimony determinations, such as the length of the marriage, the income-earning ability of each spouse and the past contributions to the marriage.

Divorce And Bankruptcy

When a couple divorces, they divide their debts as well as their assets. If the couple has significant debts, and one party files for bankruptcy post-divorce, it could force the other party into bankruptcy as well. Even though the court assigned specific amounts of debt to each party, if one ex-spouse defaults or declares bankruptcy, the creditors frequently will attempt to collect from both spouses.

If you and your spouse are considering divorce and you have high debts as well as assets, you may need to work with an attorney who has experience working with divorce as well as bankruptcy.

High-Asset Divorce

When a couple has a high net worth, untangling the assets can become complicated. Additional experts may need to be called in such as a forensic accountant, business valuation expert or other similar experts. An experienced divorce attorney for a high-asset divorce should know how to assemble a team for the following sorts of financial issues:

  • Ownership of multiple real estate holdings including rental property
  • Ownership of foreign assets
  • Ownership of illiquid or hard to value assets
  • Patents and intellectual property
  • Silent partner in a Limited Liability Partnership
  • Valuation of a family-owned business

The court frowns upon either hiding assets or spending down assets prior to divorce, and may award the nonoffending spouse a greater share of the assets, should either party attempt to thwart an equitable division of property.

Other Potential Marital Issues

Military Divorce

In many ways a military divorce is just like a civilian divorce. The same residency and waiting period requirements are in place. For both civilians and members of the military, child support and alimony awards are not to exceed 60 percent of income or pay allowances.

In addition, if a couple was married for at least 10 years during the military member’s active duty, the military members’ retirement pay can be split as part of the divorce decree.

Post-Divorce Modifications

When ex-spouses experience a significant life change, it may be sufficient enough to make a post-divorce modification necessary. A post-divorce modification changes the terms of the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Reasons for a post-divorce modification include:

  • Loss of employment
  • Major health issues for either ex-spouse
  • Health issues for a dependent child
  • Long-distance relocation
  • Remarriage

Why Hire A Divorce Attorney?

The state of Washington has posted some very helpful information on its website, including many of the forms one might need to obtain a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This could encourage couples to “go it alone” and obtain a divorce without the advice of a divorce attorney. This could be a mistake, however.

When you have a lawyer, it is his or her job to look out for your best interests. Your attorney can explain the legal process to you without legalese. If there are contentious issues in your marriage, there may be in your divorce as well. An attorney can work to make certain that you are protected.

Divorce can be a traumatic experience. A qualified and experienced divorce lawyer can reduce the emotions involved in your decision-making process.

How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer

Looking for a lawyer is not the same as car shopping, or house shopping. Your lawyer will be with you for a short, but very intense, amount of time. The decisions you make, with the advice of your attorney, will have long-term consequences.

Look for an attorney who focuses his or her legal practice on divorce, rather than settling for a general practice attorney. Make certain that your lawyer represents clients in Seattle and King County, and follow up on the attorney’s references when they’re provided.

In addition, if you have special issues, such as a family-owned business, a child with a health condition, or you’ve been subjected to abuse or domestic violence, make certain that you select an attorney who has helped other people in a similar situation.

To discuss your case and learn more about all the different options available to you, fill out the free case evaluation form and we’ll put you in contact with a local attorney. After the free case review you can decide whether you would like to retain legal representation. So, what are you waiting for? Take the first step today.

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