Our Family Law Practice Areas
Washington State Divorce
Vancouver Washington Custody and Parenting Time
Other Family Law Areas
FAMILY LAW FAQ
Divorce and custody cases are highly emotional. Every attorney has a different method in how they help you find solutions to your problems. The way to get to the best solutions is to choose an attorney who works with your personality. The following three questions will help you choose the best divorce attorney.
- Does this attorney listen to me?
- Can I Be Honest With This Attorney
- Will I Take Direction From This Attorney?
Does This Attorney Listen To Me?
If the attorney cannot listen, you should hire someone different. Only an attorney that listens can understand how to help you best.
Can I Be Honest With This Attorney?
If you cannot be honest and share the details that are embarrassing or possibly harmful, address this up front. Divorce and custody cases can depend on the undisclosed and embarrassing facts.
Will I Take Direction From This Attorney?
Sometimes an attorney has to tell you something you don’t want to hear. This can be very difficult to accept. You have to be able to trust your attorney, and know that their advice is offered only to help. You are going to go through a divorce and custody case once. We have helped people through hundreds. Find someone you trust enough to follow.
Attorney Fee Tax Deduction In New Tax Law?
Generally, under Washington law, attorney fees incurred during the course of a dissolution of marriage action or as a result of a divorce or other family law matter are no longer tax deductible as they are considered a “personal expense.” A party may only deduct legal fees related to doing or keeping their employment, but may not deduct the costs of counseling, litigation or personal advice.
PROBLEM: If you don’t file the right paperwork on time, you can lose automatically.
Almost all court documents have deadlines. A typical response deadline, for example, is 30 days from the date of service (although sometimes deadlines can be shorter).
If you don’t file paperwork in the right amount of time, the other side can win automatically with a “default judgment”. That means they get everything they asked for because you didn’t respond formally. It can be extremely difficult to reverse a default judgment.
SOLUTION: The moment you get paperwork, pay strict attention to deadlines, and file your response well in advance of those deadlines.
Ignoring the paperwork will not make it go away. Instead, summon the strength to confront the paperwork, and use that energy to figure out what you want to ask for in your response, to protect yourself and your children.
PROBLEM: Losing access to the financial accounts.
When you are preparing for a divorce, there is something to be said about making sure one spouse doesn’t walk off with all the cash accounts if they exist. What happens if one spouse transfers all savings, checking and other accounts over to a separate financial institution, and stops depositing their paycheck into the joint account?
SOLUTION: If you know you are going to need money for life necessities, for your children, or for help hiring an attorney, it can make sense to secure your finances before they swept out from under you. Sometimes that means transferring money first.
Every financial situation is different, this is something you should speak with an attorney about before making a decision. Prepare yourself for the idea that you might have to transfer money from a joint account to protect yourself financially. The alternative is to potentially live without access to money you need for yourself and your children.
Family law attorneys typically require you to deposit a “retainer” or “trust deposit” with the law firm. These terms refer to money which you deposit with your attorney’s law firm, which the firm will use to bill legal services and pay for costs (e.g., filing fees). The law firm will hold the money in a “trust account” for you–i.e., the money is the yours and is accounted for as the law firm uses the trust account to move the case forward.
The trust account is a bank account held at an accredited financial institution that is approved by the Washington State Bar. If the amount of money in trust is enough to finalize your case, the remaining balance is refunded to you. If a first trust deposit is not enough to take you through the entire case, additional deposits will be requested.
There is no exact answer to this question because there is usually no “average” amount. We don’t believe in cookie cutter solutions, or that our clients are average. We do believe everyone has very unique circumstances that deserve the right amount of time and attention for their specific issue. Our goal is to provide exceptional value to all of our clients and find ways to pay for ourselves. That sometimes is in acquiring better results with very tangible issues: Spousal support, child support, property division and debt division. Sometimes that value is in helping our clients have better results with obtaining custody, more parenting time and creating better futures for their children.
Your business has the potential to be treated like a piece of property and divided. This would be similar to any other property that exists in your marriage, like a home, automobile, or retirement account.
PROBLEM: A spouse doesn’t want to give up certain property, so they hide it, gift it, or try to sell it to avoid dividing it in a divorce.
Doing this can constitute fraud. Additionally, once it is discovered (and it almost always is), there is a significant chance the party behaving badly will lose all interest in the property, or be required to pay the full value of the property to the other spouse.
This can have significant impact with respect to retirement and investment accounts. You can potentially lose the whole thing if you intentionally hide it.
SOLUTION: Play by the rules.
When going through the process of document exchange (“discovery”), come to terms with the idea that when two people are married, they share assets and debts. That means property and debts are disclosed. If you want to make an argument that certain property should be kept separate, there are ways to legally do that. If you need to sell property, make sure that you and your spouse are both informed and have an agreement.
PROBLEM: Facing this alone without help and information you can rely on.
Sometimes, a case does not seem to be very complicated at all. And sometimes a case really is that simple. Does that mean you should just file the papers yourself? The decision to move forward with a divorce is not made lightly. You only want to go through this one time, it makes sense to put yourself on the right path by speaking with an attorney at a consultation to get everything done correctly.
SOLUTION: Schedule a consultation as a first step. There is no obligation to hire. With consultations, you get what you pay for, otherwise something gets left out.
Just like a good doctor, a good attorney will ask you many questions, and take the time necessary to make sure you are on the right track. Make sure your consultation gives you an hour to address all the major issues you are potentially facing. You don’t want someone advising you on these important issues after only a 10 minute phone call.
The most important issue with proceeding through the divorce process is not necessarily knowing all the steps which need to be completed, it is knowing how to complete the steps in a way that protects you, for your unique situation. This is the real reason why you hire an attorney, to make sure things are done right the first time and you don’t have regrets. Fixing things is almost always far more expensive and difficult. Attorneys help people navigate the legal maze to safety.