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Federal Way Divorce Law Blog

Custody based on the best interest of your child

Settling custody issues can be the hardest part of a Washington divorce. Altering where your children live and when uproots their schedule. It also changes your overall family life significantly. If there is animosity about the split, it can make negotiation or mediation unrealistic. At Clement Law Center, our team often assists clients with legal support to resolve custody issues.

According to Verywell Family, when the court becomes involved with custody arrangements, the judge considers the children's needs using several factors. Young children typically require more hands-on care than older children. When evaluating the best interests your kids, the court evaluates which parent can provide for those needs.

Timing of divorce is important, should be planned for

The number of divorces rises during the summer months, according to a study conducted by sociologists from the University of Washington. The study examined data from divorce filings made in Washington from 2001 to 2015 and was presented to the American Sociological Association in 2016. According to some divorce attorneys, another spike occurs around the beginning of each new year, in January. The important thing for couples is to plan ahead of time for divorce.

The planning required to get through the divorce process should begin months before the intended date of divorce. In a lot of couples, one or both of the parties may not be entirely aware of all of their shared bank accounts, credit cards or other financial products. Practically speaking, it is a good idea early on for people to take stock of their assets, collect records and put together a support team to help get through the divorce.

How to protect retirement savings in a divorce

Divorce can present a major financial challenge for families in Washington at all income levels. In particular, how retirement accounts are distributed can make a big difference in the future stability of each party. The primary income earned may want to preserve as much as their earning as possible while a stay-at-home parent may be concerned that their lack of participation in the workforce has ruined their chances at a comfortable retirement.

When one person in a divorce has significantly more retirement savings than the other, making sure each party is treated fairly can be complicated. Like other assets, any contributions to retirement that occurred during the marriage can be partially claimed by the other spouse. Ex-spouses can also make partial claims on the pensions and social security benefits earned during marriage. A financial planner may be able to help establish the long-term value of such benefits.

First right of refusal for child custody

Divorce is rarely easy. If you share children with your former spouse, though, you must work diligently to ensure your kids have what they need to become successful adults. While parenting on your own terms may be an option, you likely must share parental duties with your ex-spouse. 

Parenting in a post-divorce family does not have to be difficult. With a bit of planning and some effective communication, you may boost your chances of raising good kids. If you want to maximize the time you spend with the young ones in your family, though, you may want to consider adding a first right of refusal provision to your child custody agreement. 

Recognize these signs of divorce before it is too late

Marriage is not always easy, and Washington couples can expect there to be some turbulence along the way. However, there are certain signs that experts use to predict when a marriage is in real trouble. Some are more subtle and some more obvious, but it is important that couples recognize them so they can begin to make changes in their relationship before the problems become too big to fix.

According to Psych Central, marriage therapists discuss four main types of behavior that are good indicators of divorce. The chances of a breakup increase substantially if more than one of these is present in a relationship. One sign is contempt towards the other spouse. In this serious behavior, one attacks the other's sense of self with conduct such as mocking, name calling, sneering, using sarcasm or eye rolling. 

How inequality can increase the likelihood of divorce

When couples in Washington begin their marriage with a traditional arrangement in which the husband is the breadwinner while the wife earns less or stays at home, if there is later a change in the wife's status, the couple could be headed for divorce. A study by Swedish researchers found that when a wife begins making more money, the likelihood of divorce increases. This is not the case for couples who begin on a more even footing.

There are several reasons why this occurs. In some cases, a husband who is suddenly making less money may become resentful and controlling. In other cases, he may work fewer hours but take over none of the household duties that his wife no longer has as much time for.

How technology can aid or hinder your divorce

As a techie, you have a lot of experience with numerous types of technology and enjoy the benefits they provide. What you may not have experience in is the end of your marriage. Although divorce rates in the tech industry are lower than rates in other sectors, it is still a very real risk.

Navigating divorce is challenging, but you can use your tech savvy to make it a smoother process.

Military service may complicate custody agreements

Divorcing and figuring out child custody agreements are seldom simple processes, but they may be even more complex if you or your spouse is a military service member. In divorce cases involving military service, you may need to figure out exactly how Washington's child custody laws address situations such as overseas deployments. At the Clement Law Center, we understand how military service influences child custody terms, and we have helped many parents come to satisfactory agreements.

Military service often puts strain on a marriage, especially when overseas deployments or frequent reassignments occur. If you decide to divorce, it is important to understand that military service may factor into the divorce proceedings. Establishing custody terms may be especially vital if your divorce occurs around the time of a military relocation. Divorcing during an overseas assignment or while you are living on a military base may make it harder to determine legal jurisdiction. In some cases, federal law may intersect with Washington state law to determine how custody discussions occur.

May you move with your children after a divorce?

If you and your spouse file for divorce in Washington, there are several laws that govern how you must handle parenting issues. Depending on the details of your custody agreement, there may be restrictions on where you and your spouse may live. If you are the person with whom your children live most of the time, certain aspects of the Relocation Act may apply if you decide you want to move to another area.

Washington's Administrative Office of the Courts provides extensive information on the Relocation Act in its Family Law Handbook. According to the handbook, the Relocation Act may apply to your situation if you have a parenting plan based on a court order. The Relocation Act may not be applicable if your children do not have a primary residential parent, which is the case in a 50/50 parenting agreement. If your situation does fall under the Relocation Act, there are several things that may affect your ability to move to a new location.

Calculating support after a job loss

When a Washington couple gets a divorce, the process of dividing property and deciding on support can become even more difficult if one person loses a job. The circumstances in which the person lost the job may be significant in some cases. The legal system may view a layoff differently from a situation in which a person is fired.

First, if the person worked for a family member or friend, the layoff could be an effort to avoid paying support or to reduce the support amount paid. However, courts usually base support calculations on a person's salary history. Becoming deliberately underemployed will generally not succeed as part of an effort to avoid paying support. The couple might make an agreement that the support-paying party will resume higher payments after getting a new job. If the unemployed person is the spouse who earns less, the payer might be required to pay extra until the recipient finds a new job. In some cases, the person's severance package might help supplement payment to a lower-earning spouse.