Dealing with a family law matter can be a little scary. Unless you are a lawyer yourself, you may not have a strong understanding of the processes you may have to go through or what the most likely outcomes of your case may be.
At the Law Offices of Magnuson Lowell P.S. in Redmond, Washington, we understand your concerns and will strive to answer some of your questions upfront, so you have a better idea of what to expect.
In Washington, as in all states, child custody determinations are based on the best interests of the child or children involved. Courts consider factors like each parent's income, the wishes of the child, the special needs of the child, the health of each parent and others when determining an appropriate custody order.
If you and your child's other parent are able to agree on a parenting plan, the courts will typically approve it. For this reason, many parents find it best to work out an arrangement on their own if possible. If you cannot reach an agreement, however, the courts will decide for you.
Divorce today is much easier than it used to be. In the past, one or both spouses had to cite a specific reason for the divorce, such as adultery or abuse. In recent years, however, no-fault divorce has become the norm.
No-fault divorce means you do not need a reason to divorce. You can simply file for divorce because you want to. No-fault divorce is good because it allows people to get out of marriages that are no longer working, but it also means that courts rarely consider the reason for divorce. If your spouse cheated on you — and you are getting divorced because of it — it means very little to the court and may not greatly affect the outcome of your divorce.
Cheating may come into play if your spouse spent significant joint funds on the extramarital affair. It may lead to a more favorable property division settlement for you.
Washington is a community property state. This means that all income and other assets acquired during the marriage — including debts — are considered jointly owned by both spouses. Property will be divided fairly and equitably with this in mind.
The short answer is: yes. Divorce orders can be modified if there are reasons for doing so. For example, if you are laid off from work, it could warrant a change in your support payments. Similarly, if you are diagnosed with a medical condition or have a new job that alters your schedule, you may need to adjust custody orders. The best way to determine if you can seek a modification of your divorce order is to speak with an experienced attorney.
It is rare for spousal support to be awarded after a marriage that lasted only a few years or less. Your attorney can help you determine whether it may be possible in your case.
The length of any divorce is dependent on the level of cooperation between the separating spouses — in other words, whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. The more you and your spouse are able to agree on, the quicker your divorce will likely be resolved. If you are able to agree on everything, your settlement will only need to be signed off on by the courts to be complete.
If you want to fight for exactly what you want out of your divorce without compromise, it will likely take considerably longer to resolve.
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In your first consultation, our lawyers will be Oprepared to answer more of your questions about family law.