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Yakima Family Law Blog

Divorce after 50 can have high asset implications

In Washington and across the country, people age 50 and over are often part of a rising trend. Those in this age group are filing for divorce at a rate much higher than their younger counterparts. When high assets are at stake, a spouse must be careful to protect his or her financial interests.

Older people who have been married 10, 20, 30 years or more might be worried about retirement benefits, investments and other financial issues if they decide to divorce. Such worry is not unfounded, as financial advisers and many family law attorneys often say that things can get quite messy in a late-life divorce. The good news is that a spouse need not go it alone in court; he or she can ask an experienced litigator to act on his or her behalf. 

Protecting assets in a Washington divorce

Community property division rules apply when a person files for divorce in Washington. This typically means that both spouses own equal shares of all marital property and that the judge overseeing their divorce will split assets 50/50. This state is one of only nine in the nation that operate under community property regulations.

Asset protection is a high priority for many people who are going through a divorce. If a spouse has maintained a separately owned bank account since before getting married or established a prenuptial agreement with his or her spouse before the wedding, then separate ownership of funds may be recognized by the court. Establishing financial independence is often the first logical step to take to protect one's financial interests in divorce.

High asset divorce issues to consider before filing a petition

No two Washington couples have marriages that are exactly the same, and this is particularly true regarding high asset divorce. There are, however, several important issues to which most spouses can relate. Those who want to protect their interests may wish to consider these things before seeking a divorce.

Especially regarding high net-worth values, the income of each spouse will be a central focus in divorce proceedings. This issue can have a significant impact on child support, custody and property division. Spouses must fully disclose, not only their current income information but also their potential earning power down the line.

Washington operates under community property laws in divorce

In most cases, once a family law judge finalizes a Washington divorce, the possibility of modifying the terms of the order has passed. While there are limited circumstances in which a post-divorce modification may be granted, it is best to make sure one irons out all wrinkles in a proposed plan ahead of time. This state is one of only nine that operate under community property rules when it comes to property division proceedings in divorce.

When you enter divorce proceedings in Washington, you should know that the court considers all marital property equally owned by both spouses. In addition to having an equal interest in all assets, you and your spouse also share equal responsibility for any and all debts you incurred during your marriage as well. While in most cases judges will divide property 50/50, the judge overseeing your case has discretion to deviate if he or she believes one of you would be left in a financially inferior position.

Business assets: Are yours protected, in case of divorce?

Many Washington business owners also happen to be married or are planning to be some day. Successful entrepreneurs understand the need to protect business assets. While most people expect their marriage to last a lifetime, it doesn't always end up that way.

Some businesses are less at risk in divorce than others. Company owners who sign prenuptial agreements before getting married are thinking ahead. It doesn't mean that they are being unromantic or, worse, dooming their future marriages to fail; it means they want to maximize business interests and protect what they've worked so hard to attain.

Key issues for writing co-parenting terms in a Washington divorce

When Washington spouses decide they no longer wish to maintain their relationships, they can seek a legally binding end to their marriage. Most people want to avoid lengthy court battles at all costs when they divorce. When it comes to child custody and related issues, spouses can devise the terms of their own co-parenting plans, and this helps keep legal expenses to a minimum.

Every family situation is unique; however, all divorcing parents must make certain decisions, such as where their children will live after their divorce is finalized. They can negotiate a plan and customize it as needed. For instance, some parents incorporate specific agreement terms regarding where children will spend major holidays and school vacation time.

Washington dads who owe child support should read this

A state attorney general's office in another state says it is ready to prosecute three cases involving fathers who are accused of failing in their court-ordered responsibilities to financially provide for their children. Each of the three men has been arrested and charged with felony nonsupport.  Washington parents who pay child support, as well as those facing legal problems regarding unpaid support may want to closely follow these cases.

One of the dads, age 48, allegedly owes more than $13,000 over a span of nearly 15 years. Two others who were arrested, ages 41 and 34, reportedly owe similar amounts. Many parents in this state and others have a difficult time making ends meet for their kids when co-parents neglect their financial duties.

Best interests of the child comes first for these celebrities

Washington parents who divorce often encounter challenges regarding child-related issues, such as custody, financial support or other family matters. Those whose goal is to develop an amicable co-parent relationship may want to follow the example of numerous Hollywood celebrities who say the best interests of the child is what is most important. These former couples are willing to do whatever it takes to avoid conflict in their co-parenting plans.

Bruce Willis and Demi Moore have enjoyed an amicable co-parent relationship for years. Their daughter, who is now older, says she always appreciated the fact that she did not have to choose between parents for birthdays or other special occasions. Her parents were always willing to share special events as a family so she could be with both parents at the same time.

Protect whats yours in a high asset divorce

While it is possible to act on your own behalf when ending a marriage in a Washington court, it is usually less stressful and quite helpful to instead rely on experienced legal representation. Especially in a high asset divorce, any number of challenges may arise that are far more difficult to resolve if you are acting alone. In addition, allowing an experienced attorney to represent you may help protect you from being given the short end of the stick in property division proceedings.

Priority issues in a high-net-worth divorce often include mortgage, taxes, investments, retirement and financial support of children or a spouse. It is understandable that you want to protect your financial future. If you and your spouse are on amicable terms, it may merely be a matter of negotiating a fair settlement and navigating the necessary steps to process your agreement.

Washington is a minority state when it comes to property division

As 2019 gets underway, many Washington spouses will be among others across the country who file for divorce. This state is one of nine that uses community property division rules. It is critical that anyone headed to court first makes certain he or her understands what this actually means.

Most states use equitable division guidelines wherein judges overseeing divorce cases determine what they believe to be a fair distribution of marital assets. Community property rules, however, basically divide all marital property equally. A pre or postnuptial agreement, if applicable, may include changes to this approach. In most situations, property division rulings in Washington are permanent; in rare circumstances, such as evidence of fraud, modification may be sought though it is definitely not the norm.

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