What is Family Law?
At Jeffrey L. Barth, PLLC, I have a dedicated focus on the practice of Family Law. By concentrating my efforts on helping families with difficult legal issues, I am able to maximize my legal knowledge and provide high-caliber representation. As your attorney, I bring more than 37 years of family law experience to your case.
My practice encompasses many different areas of the law, including dissolutions, legal separation’s, paternity, committed intimate relationships, prenuptial agreements, and related areas. The relevant law is set forth in state statutes (RCW’s) and case law from the Washington Court of Appeals and the Washington State Supreme Court. The Washington State Court Rules and Local Rules from each county set forth procedures for motions, discovery, trials and other issues.
If the parties are married, they can file a petition for dissolution (divorce), or if they want to be legally separated they can file a legal separation. The process is initiated by filing and serving a summons and petition, and by serving the other party. The petition sets forth the date of marriage, the date of separation, the name and ages of the minor children, and requests for relief. Typically, the parties will ask the court to grant a dissolution, enter a parenting plan and child support order (if there are minor children), divide the assets and liabilities, award maintenance, and award attorney fees and costs.
At the beginning of a dissolution case, the parties can enter into an agreed order, or go to court and file a motion for a temporary order. Temporary orders address various issues such as temporary parenting plan, temporary child support, temporary occupation of a home, temporary use of vehicles, child support, maintenance and attorney fees. The temporary order allows the parties to have “ground rules” during the dissolution process. The temporary orders will remain in effect until they are modified, or until the dissolution is finalized.
If minor children are involved, the parties will have to have a final parenting plan as part of their final orders. The parenting plan provides for a residential schedule, decision making and dispute resolution. The parties will also have to enter a final child support order. The child support order will require the non-custodial parent to pay child support. Child support in the State of Washington is based upon the parents’ income, and the number and ages of the children. There is a Washington State Child Support Schedule that is used in all cases to determine the appropriate level of child support. The child support order will also cover matters such as health insurance for the minor children, payment of uninsured medical expenses, tax deductions for the children, payment of daycare expenses, and transportation expenses and long distance transportation expenses.
During the divorce process the parties will have to divide their assets. It is important to have a list of all of the assets that the parties own. It may be necessary to hire expert appraisers to appraise real property, or to appraise a business. Maintenance is often an issue in many cases where there is a difference in the income of the parties or where one party has not worked for a substantial period of time.
Many divorce cases are negotiated by the parties with the help of their attorney. If the parties through their attorney are unable to negotiate a settlement, they are required to engage in an alternate dispute resolution before trial. Most parties will agree to a mutually acceptable mediator. Ultimately, if mediation is not successful the parties will have to either agree to arbitration or have a trial before a superior court judge.
If the parties are not married but have children, either party can initiate a parentage action. The parentage action is used to determine the child-parent relationship with respect to any minor children of the parties. If parentage is contested, either party may request a DNA test to determine if the other party is the biological parent. Once the child-parent relationship has been established, the parents can then address the issues of a residential schedule (parenting plan) and child support. If the parties have previously signed an acknowledgement of paternity, they do not need to file a paternity case but can directly petition the court for a parenting plan and child support order.
If the parties have lived together in a long-term stable relationship, the assets and debts acquired during their relationship can be divided. Intimate long-term stable relationships are referred to as committed intimate relationships. In committed intimate relationships the court can divide the assets and liabilities of the parties.
Why Jeffrey L. Barth, PLLC?
Numerous legal issues need to be examined and addressed when ending a marriage. I help clients understand the complexities of each facet of their divorce. No two cases are alike, and I will spend time to learn about your specific legal position in depth. Each area of your divorce will have an effect on the others, and I am meticulous in my analysis of each, to prepare your best case.
Learn how I can best help you with all areas of family law including: