To achieve a good outcome in a divorce, it's essential to have a good working relationship with your family law attorney. Here are some tips on how to help your family law attorney help you in your divorce case.
1. Be Honest and Transparent: Your attorney needs to know all about your situation to provide you with the best advice and representation possible. It's crucial to be honest and transparent with your attorney about your situation, your expectations, and your goals for the divorce. Your private communications with your attorney and your attorney’s staff are protected by client attorney privilege. This means your attorney cannot disclose these communications to a third party without your permission. Being open and honest with your attorney is one of the best ways you can help your attorney help you.
2. Plan ahead: You will receive all dates and deadlines related to your case well in advance. Always be thinking and planning ahead for the next step in your case, and the next stage in your life.
3. Stay Organized: Keep all relevant documents, such as financial statements, tax returns, and any correspondence with your spouse, in PDF form in a centralized and easily accessible location. If you organize and share these documents well in advance of the time we need them for your case, this will better help your attorney help you.
4. Communicate Effectively: Make sure to communicate clearly and effectively with your attorney. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to ask. Think through your questions before you ask them. If you are meeting with your attorney, write down your questions in advance. If you are communicating with your attorney in writing, batch your questions together in one communication. This will help your attorney more efficiently and effectively help you. It's also important to respond promptly to any requests for information or documents from your attorney.
5. Engage a therapist: Divorce can be a highly emotional process, but it's essential to keep your emotions in check when working with your attorney. Try to remain objective and focused on your goals for the divorce, rather than getting caught up in anger or sadness. Process your emotions with your therapist, not your attorney.
6. Be Realistic: Understand that divorce cases can be complicated and take time to resolve. It's essential to be realistic about the outcomes that are possible in your case, based on the law and the facts at hand. Your opinions as to what is “fair” may or may not align with what the law says is fair. Understand that you will need to flex, adapt, and probably step outside of your comfort zone to resolve your divorce case.
7. Follow Your Attorney's Advice: Your attorney has years of experience and knowledge of the law. Trust their advice and follow their guidance, even if it's not exactly what you want to hear. They have your best interests in mind and will work to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
8. Be Prepared for Court: If your case goes to court, make sure to dress appropriately and arrive on time for any court hearings. Work with your attorney well in advance to prepare for court. Procrastination is not your friend; preparation is.
In conclusion, divorce can be a difficult and stressful process, but working with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney can help to make it easier. By following these tips, you can help your attorney help you in your divorce case, ultimately leading to the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Hidden Hazards: The Risks of Stay-at-Home Parenting When You're Not Married to Your Partner
In Washington state, being a stay-at-home parent when you are not married to your partner can be a risky decision. This is because of the absence of legal protections for unmarried couples who live together and have children.
First, if a person in an unmarried partnership becomes incapacitated and cannot make legal, medical or financial decisions for themselves, their partner may not have legal authority to do so on their behalf. This is because unmarried partners do not have the legal status of a spouse or next of kin.
Without legal documentation, such as a power of attorney or advance directive for healthcare, their partner may have to go to court to obtain guardianship or conservatorship over their incapacitated partner. This can be a costly and time-consuming process.
Second, Washington State does not recognize common law marriage so if your partner dies without a proper estate plan, you will not be an heir at law. Social security benefits will not be available to you based on your higher-earning spouse’s benefit in the way it would be if you were married. Your children will still be entitled to these benefits as heirs, but especially where step-children and former spouses are involved, the benefit to the children may be diminished beyond what you or your partner would have intended.
Finally, being a stay-at-home parent in an unmarried partnership can be especially troublesome at the time of a breakup. Under Washington law, even if a couple has been living together for a long time and has children together, they do not have the same legal protection as a married couple. For example, an unmarried stay-at-home parent does not have the right to spousal mintenance in the event of a breakup. This is true even when one parent has been employed for a long time in a high-power career that could not have been built without the support of a dedicated parent at home.
In contrast, in a marriage spousal maintenance can be awarded to provide financial assistance to a spouse who may not have the financial resources to support themselves following a divorce. Spousal maintenance can be awarded to a spouse who has sacrificed career opportunities, education or job prospects in order to support their family during the marriage. In a long-term marriage, the goal of spousal maintenance is to ensure that both parties can maintain similar standards of living after the divorce. In a shorter marriage, spousal maintenance helps the financially disadvantaged spouse transition to financial independence. The amount and duration of spousal maintenance is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a variety of factors such as income, earning capacity, health, the length of the marriage, standard of living during the marriage, and the need for further education and training in order to prepare for re-entry to the workforce. However, without marriage, spousal maintenance is not available.
Overall, being a stay-at-home parent when you are not married to your partner in Washington state can be a risky decision. It is important to consider these factors and discuss them with your partner openly and honestly. If you are in this situation and looking for legal advice, call us today.
Living together with a partner without being married has become increasingly common in recent years. However, unmarried couples who live together in Washington State should be aware that they may be considered to be in a "committed intimate relationship." This presumption can have significant financial implications if the couple ever separates.
In Washington State, a committed intimate relationship is a legal term that describes a relationship between two unmarried adults who live together and share a mutually committed relationship. The court may presume that such a relationship exists if the couple lives together while unmarried and has demonstrated mutual commitment and support resembling a marriage. The duration of the relationship is not specified by law, but the court may consider various factors such as cohabitation, joint financial accounts, joint projects, sex, and shared property.
If the court determines that a committed intimate relationship exists, the couple’s assets and debts may be subject to a division of property, as if they were married. This means that both parties may be entitled to a share of any assets and assigned debts that were acquired during the relationship, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, real estate and credit card debts.
The implications of a committed intimate relationship can be significant for unmarried couples who live together in Washington State. This means that if the couple separates, they may have to go through a legal process to determine the division of property and debts, which can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally challenging.
To avoid the presumption of a committed intimate relationship and its potential financial implications, unmarried couples who live together in Washington State - and especially those who purchase real estate together or separately during cohabitation - should consider entering into a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract that outlines the terms of the couple's living arrangements, including the ownership of real estate and the division of asset and debts in the event of a separation. The agreement can provide certainty and security for both parties and can help to avoid the unwanted surprise of costly and emotional legal battles in the future.
Imagine the horror of realizing that your ex wants half the equity in that house that you saved for and purchased with your credit and your credit alone during your relationship! But - you argue - you made all the mortgage payments. And you created equity in the house with your sweat and skill while your partner whiled away hours on video games and bonbons. We've heard this story too many times already. We have seen it fail to protect against dividing the house acquired during cohabitation. Protect yourself now before it's too late.
In conclusion, unmarried couples who live together in Washington State should be aware of the legal presumption of a committed intimate relationship and its financial implications. To protect their interests, couples should consider entering into a cohabitation agreement that outlines the terms of their living arrangements and can help to avoid disputes and legal battles in the event of a separation. Wysocki Law, PLLC can provide guidance and advice on the best course of action for each individual situation.
Parental conflict can have a profound impact on a child's well-being, and recent research suggests that it can even threaten a child's long-term physical health. Parents can harm their children’s physical health by staying together rather than separating, if the parents are constantly arguing. Studies show that when parents argue all the time, children may find significant relief after the parents separate. See e.g. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9894063/, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10939225/.
However, if the arguing and conflict continue even after the divorce or separation, especially within the context of litigation that emotionally and financially depletes both parents, children continue to experience elevated risks of physical health problems even into adulthood.
One way that parental conflict may harm a child's health is through the release of stress hormones. When children are exposed to high levels of conflict between their parents, they can experience chronic stress, which can lead to the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. See e.g. https://royalsocietypublishing.org, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008. These hormones can have a negative impact on a child's physical health, including impairing their immune systems and increasing their risk of developing health problems such as heart disease and diabetes later in life. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/stress-and-health
In addition to the physical effects of stress hormones, parental conflict may also have a negative impact on a child's mental health, which can lead to physical health problems. For example, children who grow up in households with high levels of conflict may be at increased risk of developing anxiety and depression, which can lead to physical health problems such as sleep disturbances and stomach problems. https://mind.help/news/parental-conflict-affects-a-child-brain.
Parental conflict may also disrupt a child's sense of stability and security, which can lead to physical health problems. https://www.webmd.com/depression/how-depression-affects-your-body, https://www.healthline.com/health/physical-symptoms-of-anxiety#symptoms.
When children are constantly exposed to conflict between their parents, they may feel uncertain about their home environment and may have difficulty forming secure attachments with their parents. This can lead to problems with physical and emotional development, including delays in reaching developmental milestones and difficulty regulating emotions. https://sites.psu.edu/kmh6360/2017/03/27/parental-conflict-can-cause-development-issues-in-children.
In short, parental conflict can threaten a child's long-term physical health in several ways, including through the release of stress hormones, the negative impact on mental health, and the disruption of stability and security. It is important for parents to work on resolving conflicts and creating a supportive and nurturing home environment for the sake of their child's well-being, whether or not they choose to stay living together in the same household.
Sometimes a necessary step to protecting children from parental conflict is separation or divorce. If parents create separate homes where the children are shielded from parental conflict, that arrangement can be far more healthy than “staying together for the kids” in a home where the children experience constant conflict. https://www.healthychildren.org/How-to-Support-Children-after-Parents-Separate.
After separation or divorce, parents must be mindful of the potential harm to their children if they continue to expose the children to conflict. A summary of the adverse costs of parental conflict on children’s physical health can be found here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15119687/. Another resource on the topic of physical effects of childhood exposure to parental conflict is the book The Body Remembers.
For the sake of the children, parents do not need to stay together. They do need to create peaceful homes and peaceful relationships that enable children to thrive.
These posts are written in collaboration with our valued friends and colleagues. We welcome your ideas for future musings.