Issues related to children can be highly contentious during divorce. Parents sometimes use their children to strike back at their spouses. This distracts from the most important consideration, the best interests of the children. Moreover, parents who fight over the children may find themselves saddled with custody or support orders that really do not meet their needs or those of their children.
At our Shoreline, Washington, law firm, the Hawkes Law Firm, our attorneys guide clients as they consider their options in child custody and support matters. We give parents the time they need to consider their options and help them understand the long-term consequences of their choices. We encourage them to use collaborative law or mediation to arrive at mutually agreeable outcomes that they can support and implement. And we are skilled enough at litigation tactics to utilize that dispute resolution mechanism to our clients’ advantage.
Issues in Child Support and Custody
We help parents resolve custody and support matters such as:
Developing parenting plans, which are detailed description of the child’s living arrangements, or residential schedules, and contact with the non-residential parent (visitation). If the parents can agree and the parenting plan is deemed to be in the best interest of the child, the court will usually approve it. However, if the parents cannot agree, the court will evaluate factors such as the strength of the parent-child relationship, the child’s relationship with siblings, the needs of the children and other matters that go into court-determined parenting plans.
Determining child support in Washington is accomplished by applying the state’s child support guidelines. The guidelines, also called schedules, take all sources of income into account and allocates support obligations to each parent based on a schedule. Even if the parents agree, the court is required to rule on child support to ensure that children will not become public charges.
Modifying or enforcing orders after divorce can involve parenting plans, child custody, spousal or child support, and property division. Issues in contested modifications often include charges of inadequate or inconsistent parenting. Modifications that affect the parenting plan are often the result of one parent seeking to relocate. Child support modification requests are often the result of job loss, illness or disability. In all these matters, our lawyers work hard to help parents develop solutions that are in the best interests of their children.
Domestic Partnerships, Agreements and Breakups
When a registered domestic partnership breaks up, the parties need to make the same choices as married couples do. Issues related to children, support and property must be resolved to dissolve a domestic partnership agreement.
At the Hawkes Law Firm, in Shoreline, Washington, our lawyers help people deal with the dissolution of domestic partnership agreements. We know this is a difficult time for our clients and we spend the time necessary to understand their concerns and discuss their options. Our clients include people in same-sex relationships, opposite sex couples, elderly people, couples with and without children and couples with special needs. In all cases, our lawyers provide a sympathetic ear and a caring response to clients’ questions.
Dissolution of Domestic Partnership Agreements is Similar to Divorce
Clients who are dissolving their domestic partnerships must deal with property and asset division as well as maintenance. They must make arrangements for visitation, parenting plans, child support and child custody. Although the issues are the same as in divorce, the details of each case can be very different. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to guide clients through domestic partnership breakup matters, however complex or unusual the case.
Issues Related to Children in Domestic Partnership Dissolution
Although most matters that arise in domestic partnership breakups are similar to those in divorce, issues related to children can be more complicated, especially in same sex domestic partnerships. The children may have been adopted, may be the biological children of one of the parents, or may have been conceived through a surrogate arrangement or other assisted reproduction method. Circumstances can make determining child custody and support more challenging. Our attorneys are highly knowledgeable about the legal issues involved in such situations and are able to counsel our clients on the best courses of action.
Divorce is almost always highly stressful, even if the parties think they are in agreement on most issues. Even though Washington is a “no-fault” state, there are still many matters to be resolved if the parties agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken.
More Than Counselors-at-Law
At our Shoreline law firm, the Hawkes Law Firm, our attorneys are strong advocates for our clients and their children. We are more than counselors-at-law — we provide a sympathetic ear and sound advice. We ensure that clients understand the long-term consequences of their decisions.
We do our best to help clients stay focused on the important issues rather than spending emotional energy on non-essential matters. In short, we guide clients through the process, giving them the help they need to move forward with their lives after divorce.
Issues in Divorce
The major issues in divorce are:
- Child support and child custody
- Development of parenting plans in support of custody arrangements
- Division of assets and debts according to the community property laws that apply in Washington
- Spousal maintenance (also known as alimony)
- Modifications and enforcement of orders after divorce
Collaborative Law in Divorce
It is far better if the parties can agree on the issues above rather than letting the court decide for them. We encourage clients to employ approaches such as collaborative law or mediation that can help them develop proposals that meet their needs. The outcome of this approach is almost always better for everyone involved. Our lawyers help clients develop proposals that the court is likely to approve.