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Vancouver WA Family Law Blog

What happens when a WA spouse dies before a divorce is finalized?

When Seattle couples divorce, death is typically not involved. But, considering that the divorce process can last longer than a year, there is a possibility that one spouse could die during this time. For example, what if a wife leaves her husband and files for divorce after finding out he has a terminal illness? The husband then dies before the divorce is finalized. What happens to the divorce action, and what does the wife receive, if anything?

When the spouse dies, the divorce action also dies. This means that the couple is still considered married at the time of death. The law says that a surviving spouse has the right to receive one-third of the deceased spouse's estate or $50,000, whichever is more. Even if the couple was estranged and the will says otherwise, the surviving spouse is still entitled to this amount. If the surviving spouse was listed as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy or retirement account, he or she will receive that money as well.

How you may be affected by Washington's domestic violence laws

Unfortunately, relationships do not always go as smoothly as expected. A seemingly minor disagreement can suddenly erupt into a physical altercation that results in injuries to the other partner or even the children. It can be scary to be involved in this type of situation. Fortunately, Washington does not take domestic violence lightly and has strict laws in place for those who physically or emotionally abuse their partners or children.

Domestic violence cases can be tricky to navigate because they border on family law and criminal law. However, a competent attorney can help clients who are dealing with a variety of issues related to domestic violence, including restraining and no-contact orders and child custody and other divorce issues. By better understanding how domestic violence affects these various issues, those suffering from domestic violence can make informed decisions that support the best interests of themselves and their family.

How an uncontested divorce may or may not work for you

Divorce is never easy, but there are some ways to reduce the amount of stress involved. If both spouses agree that it's best to end the marriage, then an uncontested divorce may be a viable option. Uncontested divorce is available in some states, and it allows both parties to resolve any issues on their own and finalize the divorce quickly and easily. Because the process is streamlined, the couple may save money as well, which is always a good thing.

Couples who agree to uncontested divorce still need to file for divorce. If they have everything already worked out -- including child custody issues -- the uncontested divorce may be granted. However, it may be beneficial to have an attorney, because no divorce is without any sort of conflict.

I am filing for bankruptcy. Do I still need to pay child support?

Many Washington parents face financial challenges. The cost of living is constantly increasing, and many people struggle with medical bills and credit card debt. On top of that, they may be forced to pay child support. All of these financial obligations can ultimately result in bankruptcy. If a parent files for bankruptcy, does that make their child support obligations disappear?

Bankruptcy can eliminate various types of debt, but child support is an exception. The courts are very strict about parents fulfilling their obligations to their children. Adults make the decision to have children and because of this, they must be financially and legally responsible for their care. Even if a parent does file for bankruptcy, the court will not relieve him or her of the monthly payment.

Seattle Seahawks coach discusses domestic violence with team

Unfortunately, some professional athletes in Washington are more famous for their antics off the field than for their abilities on the field. NFL player Ray Rice recently became a household name after video surfaced of him knocking his wife unconscious in an elevator, while at a casino. The NFL has become known for domestic violence in recent years and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is looking to change that negative image.

Carroll spoke with his team on Sept. 10 about the shocking video, which was shown on TMZ just two days earlier. The coach then explained the severity of a domestic violence charge and offered to help the players should they find themselves in uncomfortable situations. The main goal of the meeting was to help players heighten their awareness of domestic violence, so they understand that abuse is never acceptable, no matter the circumstances.

How inheritances are treated in a divorce

Couples in Washington must split marital assets 50/50 in a divorce under the state's community property law. Even though this may seem fairly straightforward, there may be some confusion when it comes to inheritances. If the wife receives an inheritance while married, must she split it with her husband in the event of a divorce?

As a general rule, when a spouse receives an inheritance, it belongs to that person only. If it is kept separate from the money acquired during the marriage, then it is not subject to division in a divorce. However, if that inheritance money is put into a joint bank account, or used to pay bills or fix up the home, then it becomes marital property and must be split in a divorce.

Understanding the types of adoptions

When many Washington residents think of adoption, they likely picture a married couple, unable to have children, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a newborn baby from another country. While this may be a common scenario, it's definitely not the only type of adoption. Families come in all shapes and sizes and for those who want to expand their family or make a relationship legal, adoption offers many benefits.

Adoption isn't limited to married heterosexual couples. With same-sex marriage now legal in Washington, many couples are choosing adoption to expand their families. Men and women who are not married but want a child to call their own can also consider adoption. Stepparents can adopt their spouse's children from a previous relationship, too. This is often done if the other parent has died or no longer wants to be part of the child's life.

Is paternity testing required to prove a child is not mine?

When a man and a woman are married and the woman becomes pregnant, it is assumed that the man is the child's father. If the couple marry before the child is born, the man is also assumed to be the baby's father. However, when the couple marries after the baby is born - or never marries at all - establishing paternity becomes a bit more complicated. If the man is fairly sure he is not the child's father, he can prove it through paternity testing.

It will be up to the child's mother to file a paternity action against the man she claims is her baby's father. The man will be required to appear in court and if he denies that he is the father, then he will have to undergo genetic testing. Genetic testing is 99 percent accurate, with results available in about two weeks.

SSDI: The truth behind media and political mischaracterizations

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is an integral part of the Social Security system that provides vital economic security to workers and their families. SSDI provides modest but essential coverage that American workers earn, and protects against the economic devastation that often accompanies life-changing disability. Unfortunately, recent media coverage (including recent opinion pieces in The Hill) has painted a highly inaccurate picture of this program, in an effort to encourage damaging changes that would hurt people with disabilities.

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