Commonly referred to as a divorce, the process of legally terminating a marriage in Washington is officially known as a “dissolution” or “dissolution of marriage.” While people tend to think of divorces as messy and contentious court proceedings (and they sometimes are), in most cases, spouses who are willing to work together can reach an amicable resolution that saves time, stress, and money for all parties involved.
If you and your spouse no longer wish to live together but do not wish to file for divorce, in Washington you have the option to file for a “legal separation.” With a legal separation, you remain married, but you divide your assets and debts, enter into a parenting plan, and establish financial support obligations just as you would if you got divorced. Couples often prefer to remain married for financial or other reasons, and the legal separation provides a legally sound option for doing so.
If you and your spouse have decided to separate but you wish to remain married, Washington allows you to file for a legal separation. With a legal separation, you and your spouse can resolve all of the divorce-related issues listed above, but your marriage remains intact. Many couples pursue legal separations for financial reasons (such as maintaining medical insurance for a sick spouse), though spouses often prefer to remain married for a variety of other reasons as well. If you are considering a legal separation, our Tacoma divorce lawyers can help you decide if this is the best option for you.
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To speak with one of our eperienced divorce attorneys about your divorce or legal separation, call (253) 470-2356 or request an initial consultation online today.
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Are minors required to testify in court?
Any person who is “competent” to testify, whether or not they are a minor, can be required to testify in court. Competence generally means that the person understands the difference between truth and falsehood and understands the duty to tell the truth. Competency also requires that a person have personal knowledge of the topics about which they are called to testify.Even though children may be competent and qualified to testify in court, many courts look unfavorably on children testifying. This is especially true in family law cases. Calling a child to testify in a family law case often involves asking the child to testify against a parent, which is not in the best interest of a child.
What constitutes a “severe economic hardship” in a child support case?
The term “severe economic hardship” can be relevant in child support cases in a few different circumstances. If a parent or child is experiencing a severe economic hardship, that can be a basis for the court to modify an order of child support. Economic hardship to the parent receiving child support may be a factor in determining how much the other parent is required to pay. Also, economic hardship may be a basis for the court to increase child support in steps, as opposed to all at once.
There is no exact definition of economic hardship. It is a condition that depends on the specific circumstances of each case. However, if an economic hardship is self-created, it likely will not be a basis to modify child support or use a graduated increase. Self-created hardships may include voluntarily quitting a job or reducing work hours to part time. On the other hand, involuntary financial situations, such as a medical emergency or layoff, may be a basis for modification of child support.
Can spousal maintenance (or alimony) be changed after the divorce decree is entered?
Yes, unless the decree specifically states that the obligation to pay spousal support (or alimony) is non-modifiable. This obligation will only be changed by the court after entry of the decree in exceptional circumstances. This may include a drastic and unexpected change in income of either party or that one party failed to disclose assets in the divorce process.
What constitutes domestic violence, and what can I do about it?
Domestic violence is defined as (a) physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; (b) sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or (c) stalking as of one family or household member by another family or household member.
“Family or household members” includes, but is not limited to, spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, persons who have a child in common, adults related by blood or marriage, adults who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, and people who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can seek a domestic violence protection order. The order may restrain the respondent from having any contact with you; from coming to your home or workplace; from coming within a certain distance of you, your home, or workplace; and/or from harassing, stalking, or keeping you under surveillance. In Pierce County, you can apply for a protection order in Room 108 of the Pierce County Superior Court, at the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, or at a domestic violence kiosk. More information can be found here.