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Gig Harbor Family Law Blog

How can cohabitation agreements help Gig Harbor couples?

It is often advisable for couples in Gig Harbor contemplating marriage to enter into a prenuptial agreement before walking down the aisle. However, what about couples who live together, but have no intention of marrying? Is there a way they can protect their financial interests if they later break up?

For some couples in the above situation, entering into a cohabitation agreement may be wise. Like a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement can lay out how the couple's property and debts will be divided if they break up. A cohabitation agreement may also have provisions regarding financial support both while the couple is in a relationship together or should the couple break up. In addition, if a couple shares a home, a cohabitation agreement can have provisions that assign each partner as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship with regards to the property. By doing so, if one partner dies, the other partner will still own the home.

Older couples may benefit from a prenuptial agreement

Washington couples considering marriage may have a lot on their mind besides the stress and romance of wedding planning. Once the big day is done, and they are united in marriage, their finances will be tied together in a way that they weren't when they were single. This can be particularly significant for older couples who may have been married once before or who, over the course of time, acquired significant assets. For these couples, having a prenuptial agreement in place before they walk down the aisle can be essential.

For example, a prenup can signify which of a couple's assets are to remain separate even after they are married. This is important if a spouse enters the marriage with valuable assets such as retirement plans or real estate. For example, if a person has children from a previous relationship, he or she may want to maintain separate assets to pass on to these children as heirs once he or she passes away.

Mediating child custody issues may be preferable to litigation

When it comes to resolving child custody issues, there are options besides litigating every little disagreement. One of these options is mediation. In fact, per Washington law, the court may order mediation before a hearing takes place. The purpose of having parents go through mediation is to attempt to reduce the acrimony they may have with one another, and to allow them to develop an agreement that will allow the child to have close and continuing contact with each of his or her parents once the parents divorce.

In Washington, every superior court may have a mediator available for such cases. Per law, the provided mediation must be cost-effective and readily available. The mediator may be a person who works for a mental health services agency or he or she may be a member of a family court professional staff. However, the law does not require that a family court be instituted. Counties may, within the confines of state funding, provide mediation services at a reduced or waived fee if the parents utilize such services within 12 months of filing for divorce.

What makes a Washington acknowledgement of paternity valid?

While the father of a child born to married parents is presumed to be the husband, this presumption doesn't exist if the child is born to unmarried parents. In order to establish who the legal father of a child born to unmarried parents is, paternity must be established. One way for parents to do this is through an acknowledgment of paternity.

In order for an acknowledgement of paternity to be successfully executed and legally binding, certain elements must be met. First of all, it must be in a record. In addition, both the child's mother and the man alleging to be the child's father must sign the acknowledgement of paternity under penalty of perjury. Also, the acknowledgement of paternity must state that the child does not have a presumed father, or if the child has a presumed father whose full name is included in the document, and that there is no other man who is acknowledged or adjudicated to be the child's father.

Prenuptial agreements may help same-sex couples in Washington

Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington, it was rather simple for a same-sex couple to end their relationship. They would break-up and one partner would move out. However, if a couple is married, as same-sex couples are now able to do nationwide, to end their marriage requires a divorce, and all the legalities that go along with it.

In addition to issues such as spousal support, child custody and child support, one divorce legal issue that will come up in a same-sex divorce (and a divorce between opposite sex partners as well) is that of property division. Individuals in Washington may have very specific ideas about how they want their property handled should they divorce. However, the matter will be left up to a judge's discresion, unless the divorcing couple can reach an out-of-court settlement, something which may be hard to do if it is a heated divorce. Of course, the issue of property division in a same-sex divorce may be resolved in a swifter and smoother manner if the couple had entered into a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married.

Property division a major factor in many Washington divorces

When it comes to divorce, for some couples there is nothing that gets them as fired up as the division of their property. After all, certain pieces of property can have a lot of sentimental value or financial value, and both parties may feel they are entitled to it. Moreover, sometimes couples disagree on how valuable a piece of property is. However, if possible couples should take a step back when it comes to property division, and take a look at the big picture.

In the state of Washington, whether property is classified as "separate" or "community," it is subject to property division in the event of a divorce. The division must be equitable. However, this doesn't always come down to a 50/50 split. Some examples of property that may be subject to division in a divorce include the family home and other pieces of real property, automobiles, boats, equipment, furniture, collections, pieces of art and antiques. In addition, less tangible assets such as businesses, retirement accounts, stock accounts and investments are also subject to division.

Can a court deviate from the standard child support formula?

Despite there being a standard formula for calculating child support in Washington, all families are unique and some life circumstances must be accounted for. That is why Washington Statutes allow for a deviation from the standard child support formula in certain circumstances.

In some cases, a deviation may be based on the parents' income. This includes the income provided by a new spouse or other adult in the household, as long as the parent asking for a deviation is doing so on some other basis as well. The court may also consider any child support being received from a different relationship and any prizes or gifts bestowed on the parents. The wealth possessed by the parents and any extraordinary income of the child may also be considered. Finally, a deviation for tax planning purposes may be considered in some circumstances.

Don't overlook the financial implications of legal separation

Some couples in Gig Harbor find that a separation is, for the time being, a better alternative than divorce. They may have many personal reasons for believing this. Some may feel that they just need some time apart before deciding whether or not to end their marriage, while others may have religious or financial reasons for declining to divorce. Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that even couples who have legally separated still have financial ties with one another.

First of all, even separated couples need to discuss finances with one another. They need to decide on who will pay what bills, or whether certain bills will be split down the middle. If a couple is legally separated, they may still be able to file their taxes jointly and be on one another's health insurance. Keep in mind, however, that marital property, for the purposes of divorce, will retain the value it had when the couple separated. Therefore, any assets (or debts) acquired after a couple separates will be deemed separate property, not marital property.

What are the requirements for getting a divorce in Washington?

Once a couple in Washington decides to end their marriage, they may want to do so as quickly as possible. However, there are certain legal requirements that must be met for a couple to divorce. Therefore, it is helpful to understand what the requirements to get a divorce in Washington are, so you know what to expect.

First of all, there is a waiting period. In Washington, a person must be a resident of the state for 90 days following the petition for divorce before a divorce can be granted. Washington is a "no fault" divorce state, meaning that the only grounds for divorce are an irretrievable breakdown of the marital relationship.

More millennials choosing prenuptial agreements, study says

The millennial generation in Gig Harbor differs in many ways from generations past, and it goes well beyond the music they listen to and the fashions they wear. One thing they may be more apt to do, according to one study, is to enter into a prenuptial agreement (a prenup) before walking down the aisle.

One survey performed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that just over 50 percent of attorneys polled noted an increase in the number of millennials seeking prenups. Only 2 percent noted a decrease in these numbers for those between the ages of 18 and 34. In addition, 62 percent of attorneys surveyed reported seeing an overall increase in the number of people seeking their help with a prenup over the past 36 months.

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