Washington is a community property state. This means that the husband and wife generally own as a couple all property and funds acquired during the marriage. This means that everything is divided in half in a divorce, right? Not necessarily. The court does not need to split everything in half, but rather is supposed to divide the property and liabilities “as shall appear just and equitable” after considering various factors, which include the duration of the marriage and the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property becomes effective. In addition, the nature and extent of both community and separate property is to be considered. The courts in this state have indicated that a “just and equitable” property division is not necessarily an equal property division.
If you would like to talk to us about property division issues or some other legal matter, please contact our office at 360-675-9310.
What is an “acknowledgement of paternity” form?
In Washington State, state law provides that, “upon the birth
of a child to an unmarried woman, the attending physician, midwife, or his or
her agent shall…provide an opportunity for the child’s mother and natural
father to complete an acknowledgement of paternity.” This is a specific form (sometimes called a “paternity
affidavit”) prescribed by the state registrar of vital statistics that must be
signed by both the mother and the father under penalty of perjury. If this document has been executed, then a
certificate of birth will be issued including the father’s name and date of
birth. If no alleged father is named on
a birth certificate of a child born to an unwed mother, then the phrase “None
Named” will be placed on the birth certificate in the father’s category. What is the significance of an affidavit of
paternity? A valid acknowledgment of
paternity filed with the state registrar of vital statistics is equivalent to
an adjudication of parentage of a child and confers upon the acknowledged
father all of the rights and duties of a parent. What happens if an unwed mother or father does
not sign an acknowledgement of paternity?
Paternity can be established by a court case (a “paternity” case, also
known as a “parentage” case) brought by either the mother or the father. Such a case may or may not require genetic testing.
If you would like to discuss a paternity / parentage case or other family law matter, please contact our office.
In Washington State, a domestic relations case (such as a petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation) is commenced by either filing or serving a summons and petition. The summons and petition must be served on the other party by someone other than a party to the case who is qualified to do so. If they are not performing the service for a fee, they only need to be over the age of eighteen and competent to sign a sworn declaration of service. If the petitioner has not yet filed the case, the respondent can serve a written demand that the filing fee be paid to the clerk and the case filed within 14 days of the demand. Normally, the case will already be filed when served or shortly thereafter. Washington State uses official forms that have been approved by the court system for domestic relations matters. If the Respondent is personally served in the State of Washington, they have 20 days to respond. This means they need to file a response to the petition on the proper form with the clerk of the court handling the case. If the respondent is served out of state, different rules apply to the manner of service and the number of days to respond.
If you would like to speak with us about commencing or finishing a family law matter, please call us at 360-675-9310.
What is a guardian ad litem (GAL) in a child custody
or visitation matter? In Washington, the
court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of a minor
child when the court believes the appointment is necessary to protect the best
interest of the child. The guardian ad
litem does not represent the interests of either parent and instead acts as the
“eyes and ears” of the court in order to report information to the court. A GAL is often appointed when there are
contested positions or facts to be investigated. The guardian ad litem’s opinions are not
binding on the Court. Counties in Washington
State have registries for approved guardians ad litem. Some guardians ad litem are mental health
professionals and others may be attorneys or other qualified people who have been trained. It may be advantageous to a party to have a
guardian ad litem appointed in their case to bring things to light that may support their position.
If you would like to speak with our office about a custody or visitation matter, call us at 360-675-9310.
In Washington State, a proceeding for dissolution of marriage may be filed in the Superior Court of the county where the petitioner resides. Prior to filing, there are no requirements such as length of residence in Washington State or the county. “Residence” is defined as meaning “domicile.” This means that one has to be physically present with the intent to make it your home. However, if all parties agree, the case can be filed in any county.
If you would like to discuss this kind of case or another legal matter with us, please give us a call.
A stepparent adoption is the most common type of adoption. Obviously, there are many reasons why a step-parent may want to adopt a child. In a stepparent adoption, the stepparent essentially steps into the legal shoes of the biological mother or father and becomes fully responsible for his or her spouse’s child. After the adoption is completed, the relinquishing parent no longer has any rights or responsibilities for the child, including visitation or future child support payments. In Washington State, past-due child support is not extinguished by an adoption.
Adoptions are governed by state law. In addition, in Washington State, the practice varies somewhat from county to county. The procedure is easiest when the natural parent is willing to voluntarily consent to the adoption. A post-placement report must be procured by the petitioning step-parent. The post-placement report is a basic study to ensure that the adoption is in the child’s best interest. The placement report provider must be approved by the court. If the natural parent does not consent to adoption, it is still possible to proceed with the adoption depending on the circumstances.
If you would like to discuss a possible adoption case or another legal matter with us, please call us at 360-675-9310.