Family law is a division of civil law that covers legal relationships among family members, including husbands, wives, parents, children, and domestic partners. Our family law attorneys are well versed in dealing with relationships which encompass adoption, child custody, visitation rights, domestic violence, divorce, juvenile dependency and delinquency, marital property rights, support obligations, and paternity disputes. These personal relationships are governed by Washington state law and all of our attorneys are licensed and well experienced with the intricacies of our state’s family law sector.
Adoptions create the legal relationship of parent and child between two individuals who are not each other’s biological parent or child. Adoptions itself is largely a product of state law but whether you decide to go through an adoption agency or to adopt from a private person, the decree of adoption usually severs the legal relationship of the adopted child with its biological parents and family. Once this process is completed, the adopted child becomes the child of their adoptive parents.
Residency requirements for filing for a Divorce or Separation
To file for a divorce, legal separation, or to end a domestic partnership, the following residency requirements apply: a party who (1) is a resident of this state, or (2) is a member of the armed forces and is stationed in this state, or (3) is married or in a domestic partnership to a party who is a resident of this state or who is a member of the armed forces and is stationed in this state. Such a dissolution should be filed in the superior court of the county where the petitioner resides.
What is required to file for Divorce
The grounds when filing for divorce in the state of Washington require that the marriage be irretrievably broken. In most circumstances this is not at issue and the initial filing is not disputed. Unfortunately, there are instances where the two parties are not in agreement. If this happens the court may make the finding for itself that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or transfer the case to family court and order counseling for the two parties if the court believes the marriage is not, in fact, irretrievably broken.
Legal Separation Contracts
The parties to a marriage or a domestic partnership, in order to promote the amicable settlement of disputes attendant upon their separation or upon the filing of a petition for dissolution of their marriage or domestic partnership, a decree of legal separation, or declaration of invalidity of their marriage or domestic partnership, may enter into a written separation contract providing for the maintenance of either of them, the disposition of any property owned by both or either of them, the parenting plan and support for their children and for the release of each other from all obligation except that expressed in the contract.
Property Distribution in Washington State
Washington is a community property state, which simply means that property and debts acquired during the marriage shall be split equally unless otherwise agreed upon by the two parties. When deciding the distribution of property the court takes the following factors into consideration:
(1) The nature and extent of the community property;
(2) The nature and extent of the separate property;
(3) The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership; and
(4) The economic circumstances of each spouse or domestic partner at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to a spouse or domestic partner with whom the children reside the majority of the time.
Child Custody and Support:
The state recognizes the fundamental importance of the parent-child relationship to the welfare of the child, and that the relationship between the child and each parent should be fostered unless inconsistent with the child's best interests. Residential time and financial support are equally important components of parenting arrangements. The best interests of the child are served by a parenting arrangement that best maintains a child's emotional growth, health and stability, and physical care. Further, the best interest of the child is ordinarily served when the existing pattern of interaction between a parent and child is altered only to the extent necessitated by the changed relationship of the parents or as required to protect the child from physical, mental, or emotional harm.