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Yakima Family Law Blog

How are child support laws enforced in Washington?

When a married couple in Washington who have children together gets divorced, any number of problems may arise. Disagreements regarding child support, custody or visitation often present challenges that may seem insurmountable at times. With regard to child support, state laws govern such matters, and concerned parents are often able to overcome obstacles by seeking clarification of the laws ahead of time and proactively addressing problematic issues in court.

Either custodial or noncustodial parents can be ordered to pay child support. It is typically the parent who spends less than half the time with the children who is mandated to provide supplemental financial support. Even an unemployed parent (if he or she refuses to work to avoid paying child support) can be held legally accountable for payments.

How might Washington property division laws affect retirement?

Washington is one of nine states that handles property division issues somewhat differently than the other 43 states when it comes to divorce. These nine states are governed by community property division laws, meaning all community property gained during the marriage is owned equally by both spouses, subject to equal division in divorce. For some, this creates tremendous concern regarding their retirement plans.

Unless retirement funds were accrued before marriage, they are considered marital property; thus, the court will include such funds when considering the division of community property between both spouses in divorce. Many people opt to hire a third party to value their retirement assets before heading to court. It may be possible to exchange assets of equal value, such as agreeing that one spouse will get all retirement funds while the other keeps the house (if the values are equal).

Equitable division not an option in Washington

One of the most common sources of contention in the divorce process has to do with property distribution. Washington spouses often fight over who gets the house, the boat, the vacation time-share and any number of other big-ticket items, as well as minor assets that are more sentimental in value rather than monetary. Something every person considering divorce in this state should know is that the concept of equitable division does not apply here.

Washington is one of nine states in the nation that govern the divorce process under community property laws. Whatever belongs to both spouses in marriage is to be divided 50/50 when marital ties are severed. It's not only your assets that get evenly split in divorce; it's also debt.

Rap star gets arrested twice for failure to pay child support

Some parents in Washington may relate to a current problem in another state involving rap music star, Juvenile. The entertainer is facing serious issues regarding failure to pay child support. In fact, he was arrested twice in one week in unrelated cases.

Juvenile is the stage name for Terius Gray, who had just finished performing in Jefferson Parish when police took him into custody. The 42-year-old then spent several days in jail but secured his own release by paying $10,000 toward an apparent $150,000 delinquent child support account for his 18-year-old son. Gray claims he's very active in the young man's life and said he recently purchased a car for him and gave him all the money he needed to attend his high school prom.

In a Washington divorce, you're bound by community property law

In addition to being known for its beautiful hemlocks and rhododendrons, Washington state has another claim to fame. It is one of only nine community property states in the entire nation. If anyone reading this is preparing to divorce, that might raise a few concerns.

Community property law dictates that all marital property must be divided 50/50 in divorce. The 41 states that do not govern themselves by this law instead use an equitable division process, meaning the court determines how to divide marital property fairly, albeit not always equally. Those preparing for marriage in Washington often choose to use prenuptial agreements as means for retaining separate ownership of certain assets expressly so said items are not subject to community property division should divorce occur down the line.

Listing digital assets in a prenup may help if divorce occurs

When a married couple in Washington decides to get divorced, they may face several challenges as they navigate the process. For those with children, matters of custody, visitation and child support typically take precedence. Many people also run into complications where assets are concerned, and nowadays, digital property is often a central focus of discussion.

Any online account or data, including videos, files, email, photographs, etc., is considered digital property. While some digitally owned property is of a more personal nature, other property may be connected to business ownership, investment or other formal transactions. When a couple gets divorced and the court makes decisions regarding asset division, digital property may be considered marital property in certain circumstances; this is why many people choose to separate ownership before their weddings, by drafting prenuptial agreements.

Struggling to meet everyday expenses after divorce?

Ask any Washington parent whether raising children is expensive, and a resounding, "Yes!" is likely to be the answer. Some situations add to financial stress, such as participation in many extracurricular activities, post secondary education and even divorce. Especially if a custodial parent gave up a successful career to stay home and care for children, suddenly becoming a single parent with no income can be utterly frightening. Those in such situations often worry about food, clothing and other everyday expenses, wondering how they will make ends meet.

Such issues often lead to requests for child support. It's understandable that a parent in need would assume his or her former spouse would be willing to provide financial contribution to help raise children. It'd be nice to think that all a parent need do is ask for what's needed and it would be provided.

When the queen weighs in on a high asset divorce

Imagine what would happen if mothers-in-law in the United States were allowed to determine how marital assets should be divided in divorce. Such situations would likely lead to some highly contentious courtroom battles. Washington happens to be one of only nine community property states; this means that, even in a high asset divorce, all marital property is divided 50/50 between spouses, and a mother-in-law has no say.

That's not the way it was when Princess Diana divorced her husband Charles more than a decade ago, however. Many readers may recall the tragic news of Diana's sudden death in a car accident not long after. What most don't know, however, is that, before the accident occurred, it was Diana's former mother-in-law, the queen, who was given much say over which possessions Diana could keep and where she would live, etc.

What daughters, social media and college have to do with divorce

Washington readers may be interested to learn that there appear to be certain issues that can serve as warnings of serious marital problems. In fact, if one of more of these things exist in a marriage, it may be a sign that divorce is looming in the not-too-far-off distance. Some of these issues are not all that surprising, while others may come as a great surprise.

For instance, if a couple has a daughter, and there are marital problems at hand, divorce may occur because the mother in the situation may want to set an example for her child that women should be proactive and independent in the face of serious marriage trouble. In situations where infidelity has occurred, somehow it doesn't seem as surprising that the other spouse may want a divorce. A little more shocking, perhaps, is the fact that those without college degrees tend to divorce much more often than those who graduated from college.

Baseball, hotdogs, applie pie and... marital assets?

That's not quite how the age old jingle ends, but the two phrases do have something in common. The old Chevrolet commercial lyrics speak of spring time and one of America's greatest pastimes: baseball. The latter, however, refers to marital breakup and property division. In case Washington readers are still wondering what marital assets and baseball have in common, it's timing.

Baseball teams launch into gear in the springtime, when the season opens, and many people filing for divorce "launch" their plans in springtime as well. Who knows how many ball fans are sitting in their prime stadium seats worried whether their spouses are going to leave them financially ruined in divorce? Just as coaches often tell their players that focusing on the fundamentals and practicing basic skills helps build great baseball players, so too can many divorce problems be avoided by thinking and planning ahead.

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