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Vancouver WA Family Law Blog

Family law issues rise as more unmarried mothers give birth

In the past, there was a social stigma attached to Washington women who got pregnant and had a baby outside of marriage. Now, it's becoming more common and even socially acceptable. According to the Census Bureau, fewer than 60 percent of first-born babies in the United States were born to a married couple. This is the lowest rate ever recorded, while the number of babies born to cohabiting parents - more than 20 percent - is on the rise. This can lead to family law conflicts down the road.

The statistics also show that Asian women over age 25 are most likely to be married when giving birth to their first child. Overall, most women are married when they give birth for the first time, but if the trend continues, married couples with children may soon be the minority.

Divorce pitfalls Washingtonians should be sure to avoid

Washington residents who have gone through, or are considering a divorce know that the ordeal can be filled with stress. There are many legal issues to contend with, but more commonly revolve around finances and children. While those obtaining a divorce may be more concerned with acquiring custody of their children, this issue can be revisited and modified in the future. Financial matters, on the other hand, are often finalized after an initial judgment, and are very difficult to modify after that point.

With this in mind, it is important that divorcing individuals know the common financial mistakes that are made during divorce. First, it is common for a parent, in particular a mother, to give up financial assets in exchange for child custody, or increased visitation. This can lead to negative financial implications in both the short- and long-term. Second, divorcing individuals tend to underestimate the amount of money they will need post-divorce. Failing to fully consider one's post-divorce financial situation could lead him or her to forego important assets that would provide the financial stability he or she needs to have a fresh start.

Washington soccer player arrested for domestic violence

A physical altercation at a recent family gathering in Kirkland, Washington, has led to the arrest of a popular female professional soccer player. Hope Solo, who plays for the National Women's Soccer League, was allegedly drunk at her sister's home when she started throwing punches at her nephew. She was arrested for domestic violence.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper for the Seattle Reign is currently out on bail. She pled not guilty to two counts of assault after physically abusing her 17-year-old nephew and sister. Solo and her nephew were having an argument that turned physical. When the boy's mother attempted to break up the altercation, she was punched in the face by Solo. The boy then tried to get Solo to leave by pointing a broken gun at her and hit her over the head with a broom.

Domestic partnerships to become marriages in Washington

On June 30, approximately 3,600 same-sex couples in Washington automatically became married. The state rolled these domestic partnerships into marriages as part of the law that approved same-sex marriage in 2012. Now that these partnerships are considered legal in the eyes of the law, gay and lesbian couples throughout Washington are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Although many couples may not be aware of the change in their status, they should have been informed through the mail about six months ago. Registered domestic partnerships were sent two letters alerting them to the automatic marriage and given the opportunity to terminate their relationship, if they chose.

The dos and don'ts of navigating a high-asset divorce

Many Washington residents have likely witnessed friends, family or celebrities go through nasty divorces. These divorces are often filled with bitterness, due to the amount of assets involved. When a wealthy person marries someone who is not as well-off financially without a prenuptial agreement in place, there is likely to be disputes about how to split the money, cars, houses, businesses and everything else the couple has accumulated before a divorce. Although it is unlikely that both parties will get everything they want, there are ways to make this situation easier to deal with emotionally and financially.

Even though getting emotional support from friends and family is recommended, taking their advice is not. While people want to be helpful, every divorce is different. When large numbers of assets are involved, the divorce is even more complicated. Not many people have legal or financial expertise in that area. Those looking for advice should consult a professional, not a well-meaning neighbor or friend.

Fathers increasingly fighting for child custody after splits

Just a few decades ago, when couples split, the woman was most likely to stay in the marital home and raise the children primarily by herself. The father may have seen the children a few times a month. Now, many men in Seattle and other parts of the country are doing what they can to stay involved in their children's lives. A growing number of them have shared or even have full custody of their children after a divorce.

There are two main causes for this: the recession and the mindset of lawyers who experienced divorce when they were children. When the recession hit, many parents - primarily fathers - lost their jobs and contributed more to the household, especially in the area of parenting. Plus, many of today's lawyers are children of divorce and they perhaps wish that their fathers were more involved in their lives. Therefore, they want the same for their clients.

In the computer age, domestic violence takes digital form

When many Washington residents think of domestic violence, they may imagine a person hitting, pushing or using a weapon on a partner. However, domestic violence does not always involve physical abuse. Increasingly, people are intimidating their partners or former partners through digital means.

In this current age of smartphones and highly sophisticated computer systems, digital abuse may result when people can not only call and text their partners incessantly, but also use GPS to determine their whereabouts. They can use social media to see if their partners are posting anything inappropriate. They may even go as far as ti ask for passwords or create fake social media accounts and trick their significant others into flirting with the fictitious user of the account.

Divorce, property division and the stay-at-home spouse

Many Washington couples begin a marriage with both the intention that both partners will continue pursuing their careers. However, a lot can change during the course of a marriage. When the couple has children, it can make more sense for one parent to stay home. This situation may be less common than it was in previous generations, but it still makes sense for many Washington couples. Unfortunately, should the couple later divorce, this choice can complicate matters.

Under Washington law, when a couple divorces, they must divide their marital assets in accordance with state law. This may leave some divorced spouses with, roughly speaking; half of the marital property, but it doesn't necessarily put the ex-spouses on an equal footing. If one party dropped out of the workforce to take care of the kids while the other pursued a high-paying career, the stay-at-home parent is at a distinct disadvantage in terms of income potential. The career spouse can continue commanding a healthy salary, but the stay-at-home spouse must often start over with his or her career.

Timing is everything when it comes to divorce

With the divorce rate hovering around 50 percent, statistics show that 1 in 2 marriages will come to an end. There is never really a good time to end a marriage, but are there situations in which Seattle couples should hold off on divorce? Yes, timing may be everything when it comes to divorce, and divorcing at the wrong time can mean big bucks.

Many couples wait until the children are grown and leave the home before deciding to divorce. Although this might mean less disruption to the children, it can be more expensive for the couple. They have had more time to accumulate assets, so property division at this time of their lives is more challenging. In addition, divorce at this age is inconvenient because both spouses are focusing on earning income instead of getting ready for retirement. This is especially hard if one of the spouses doesn't work.

Jason Patric's family law case could affect women, sperm donors

Many Washington readers may be familiar with actor Jason Patric from the movies he starred in during the 1980s. The actor has gained a surge in popularity recently through his court battle involving an ex-girlfriend. The woman, his girlfriend at the time, wanted to get pregnant and they used Patric's sperm. Now that the two have split, there is some confusion about whether or not Patric can be considered the 4-year-old boy's father. A judge recently ruled in favor or Patric, allowing him to visit the boy.

But Patric's paternity battle is not over yet. He must now show the judge that his actions toward the boy make him a father. Patric claims that he intended to be the boy's father from the start. He had even signed school paperwork and other documents typically reserved for parents or guardians.

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