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Washington Family Law Attorney

We offer a wide variety of family law services in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.

Unlike many attorneys, we don't just practice family law at the trial level.  We handle family law appeals.  We also handle international divorces.

Child Custody

No matter how smooth your divorce process might be, if you have children, everything changes after the parents split up.

At the end of the divorce process, the court will enter a final parenting plan.  The parenting plan sets forth how much “residential time” each parent will receive.  Will the father and mother split custody 50/50?  Will the mother receive primary custody? 

In most cases, one parent will become the “primary residential parent,” the parent with whom the child spends the majority of the time.   The other parent will receive “residential time” (commonly known as visitation). 

The parenting plan will also set whether the parents will exercise joint decision-making over major parenting decisions (i.e. education, medical care, religion).  In some cases, one parent will obtain sole decision-making over major decision if the other parent has neglected the child or has a history of domestic abuse against the other parent or the child. 

Child Support

Children are expensive, as every parent knows.  We clothe them, we feed them, we provide them shelter, we pay for their education, we pay for their afterschool activities.  The list goes on.

Every parent pays child support all the time.  When you're married, however, you don't think of it as child support.  You just think of it as parenting your child.

But child support doesn't stop when you get divorced.  You have to pay for children's needs and basic expenses even if you see your child less often, or not at all.

In Washington, child support follows a strict formula.  In general, how much you pay depends on how much money you make and how many children you support.

FAQ: Child Support in Washington

International Divorce / Child Custody

Everything is that much harder if one or both parents lives in another country.  

How do I serve my spouse divorce papers in another country?  You have to comply with The Hague Service Convention, an international treaty.  

What happens if your spouse has kidnapped your child and taken her to another country, even if you have custody in Washington?  To get your child returned to the United States, you'll have to file a case under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in the United States, another complicated treaty.  

FAQ: International Divorces

Parental Relocation

Relocation is a common part of divorce.  In almost every case, when the parties divorce, one parent moves out of the family home.  Sometimes, both parents move out and get their own residences.

If you and your spouse don't have children, you can move whenever you want and wherever you want.  The court doesn't get involved.  But if you have children, it's entirely different.

If you want to move with your child to a different city, a different county, a different state, or a different country, you need the court's permission.  If you are the primary parent, moving is easier, but definitely not easy. 

In Washington, a court must consider a number of factors before deciding whether one parent can relocate with the child.  This decision is governed by the Child Relocation Act. 

Spousal Maintenance

Most parents aren't surprised that they will have to pay child support after they're divorced.

But many people are surprised upon learning that they may have to financially support their former spouse.  In fact, you may have to pay spousal support if your children are no longer dependent or even if you don't have any children.

A Washington court may require one spouse to pay spousal maintenance (or spousal support) to the other spouse to ensure that the other spouse can independently support himself or herself for a period of time, usually until the former spouse can earn his or her own money. 

In Washington, your obligation to pay spousal support depends on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage and the spouse's standard of living during the marriage. 

Paternity / Father's Rights

Under Washington law, a married man is legally presumed to be the father of a child that is conceived during the marriage.  This makes sense, for obvious reasons.  This presumption of paternity applies even if there is some doubt about whether you are the biological father. 

But what happens you and child's mother are not married?  You are not considered the father.  It doesn't matter how long you have been caring for the child or how close your bond is with the child. 

An unmarried father can prove paternity through genetic testing.  You can also prove parentage if you and the mother sign an Acknowledgment of Parentage form and file it with the Washington Department of Health. 

FAQ: Father's Rights

Grandparents Rights

Many children are extremely close to their grandparents.  However, under Washington law, grandparents are not automatically entitled to see their grandchildren, unless a parent consents.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence when the primary parent keeps the child away from the other set of grandparents. 

In Washington, grandparents who want to have a relationship with their grandchildren over the parents' objections have to file a petition for nonparental child visitation.  To secure visitation, you have to prove that you have a close relationship with the child and the child is likely to suffer harm if visitation is denied.  This is not easy.

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