Family Law- Marriage, Family and Washington State Law
Family Law is a broad area of the law pertaining to marriage, domestic relations and the security of families and children. Family law covers matters that precede marriage such as premarital agreements (also known as prenuptial agreements), cohabitation agreements, property settlement agreements and community property agreements. The creation of various types of family units through marriage, domestic partnerships and other binding domestic circumstances is also covered under family law as are matters pertaining to child support (adjustments and modifications), child custody and parenting plans.
Divorce is a complex legal matter also attributed to Family Law. For more information on divorce proceedings and divorce attorney representation with Compass Legal Services click here.
Who needs a Family Law Attorney?
If you are planning to move in with a significant other or get married, it is highly advisable that you speak with a Family Law Attorney first. A family law attorney can advise you on steps that can be taken to provide security measures for yourself and your loved ones prior to making these life changing steps. Some of the options available include prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements and community property agreements. Such documents help to ensure a responsible approach to family relationships is taken from the beginning and can save tremendous stress, avoid disagreements, and save money should these relationships end in the future.
Also, if you are considering divorce or the dissolution of a domestic partnership, we recommend you contact our office as soon as possible to meet with a divorce attorney who can explain your options and help you navigate the legal system through the divorce process. For more information about Divorce Attorney representation from Compass Legal Services click here to email us or call our office at 360.471.3300.
If you are already divorced and have children, or have children from a previous relationship besides marriage, issues of custody, child support adjustment or modification and parenting plans can also be handled by our office. The security and well-being of children is of paramount importance in Family Law and one of the top priorities here at Compass Legal Services.
If you are already divorced and have children, or have children from a previous relationship besides marriage, issues of custody, child support adjustment or modification and parenting plans can also be handled by our office. The security and well-being of children is of paramount importance in Family Law and one of the top priorities here at Compass Legal Services. To schedule a consultation for any Family Law Matter, contact Compass Legal Services at 360.471.3300
or email our office.
Our Family Law Services
Compass Legal Services, led by Attorney Heather E. Forrler, provides representation for litigated cases in Kitsap County only. We can also provide representation for cases that do not require litigation, our office can represent clients throughout Washington State.
Click on each of the Family Law service titles below to expand them for additional information.
Whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement is a very personal decision. It’s more than a personal decision, though, it’s a business decision as well. When considering whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement, take the time to step back from the emotions of your relationship to make a neutral, unemotional, businesslike decision. People getting married talk about where to live, whether and when to have children, what type of home to have, etc. Many forget to talk about the assets and debts they have and those they are planning to acquire. Talking about money is important in a marriage, and it’s vital to discuss prior to the marriage. Two major causes of divorce are lack of communication and finances (either lack of agreement on or lack thereof). Talking to your spouse ahead of time regarding finances, property, and marital asset management can avoid a lot of disagreements. You both can get on the same page in the beginning so that the issue does not pop up and cause an argument later. Furthermore, discussing these issues nurtures healthy communication. Even if you and your spouse decide a prenup is not for you, discussing the mentioned issues is a very good idea.
More people today are living together without entering into marriage. There are many reasons why people are not marrying, some of which include the personal decision to simply not get married. Some people believe that if they live together long enough, they will be married by “common law.” However Washington State does not have “Common Law” marriage. Another reason may be to avoid the complex legal proceedings that will occur if the couple was to get divorced. Couples that cohabitate would rather make it simple and just be able to move out rather than go through a formal divorce. Unfortunately, their lives, both emotionally and financially, become intertwined and need to be separated. Marriage gives both parties legal protections and benefits, which simple cohabitation does not provide. Cohabitating couples who break up often conflict over matters such as how to divide the property they acquired while living together, how to separate bank accounts, who pays which loans, etc. Couples can enter a Cohabitation Agreement to address these matters and more. The first step, as always, is talking about the issues. Cohabitation agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements in that they spell out how the parties plan to deal with the assets and debts of each party when they unite and how to deal with the assets and liabilities they acquire while together. Cohabitation couples do have the right to seek assistance from the court on these matters, but that takes time and money. A cohabitation agreement reduces the need for court intervention, saving both parties stress, time, and money they could better use on other things. A cohabitation Agreement, in Washington, cannot give couples the right to make legal, medical, or financial decisions for each other. However, couples can execute other documents to give each other such authority.
A property Settlement Agreement is largely like a prenuptial agreement. The property settlement agreement sets out the assets and liabilities held by each party; addresses how each asset and debt will be dealt with; and states the agreed characteristic of the property, such as community or separate. A property settlement agreement may also have provisions for spousal maintenance, and how any pensions and/or retirement funds will be distributed. Property Settlement Agreements are generally used by couples who are considering divorce or separation. It’s uses are much greater than those situations and can be effectively used in many situations in which a couple wish to set forth how they wish to deal with their assets and liabilities.
Community Property Agreements are used for couples who wish to identify, and potentially change, the characteristic of property they own. Through provisions in the Community Property Agreement, separate property can be converted to community property and vice versa.
Under Washington law, a child support matter may be brought to the court for Adjustment as soon as 24 months after the last child support order was entered. Adjustments are generally used to recalculate the support based on current incomes of the parents. Either parent may ask for a Modification of child support based on a significant change in circumstances. If something major has changed that effects the cost of raising the children or effecting the parenting plan, a parent may ask the court to change provisions in the order of child support to accommodate the new situation.
Parents of children who live apart, whether ever married to each other or not, can greatly benefit from a parenting plan. Parenting plans set out the general schedule for which parent is responsible for the children on any particular day. It also sets out how to handle disputes between the parents on child-related matters, and how decisions for the children will be made.
***Divorce Attorney Representation
For information on Divorce Attorney Representation from Compass Legal Services in Kitsap County and in other counties in Washington State click here or call our office at 360.471.3300
Contact Compass Legal Services for your Family Law needs.
For additional information about Family Law matters including prenuptial agreements, child support, child custody matters or parenting plans contact Compass Legal Services. To schedule your initial consultation with a Family Law Attorney call 360.471.3300 or email our office.