Ending a marriage can come with many concerns and difficulties. Divorce is stressful, it’s time-consuming, and it can be costly, depending on your approach. But in the eyes of the law, the heart of your divorce case is comprised of just four elements.
Whether you and your spouse are trying to work together for an uncontested divorce or you can’t agree and expect to end up in a courtroom, it’s essential to understand the four issues at hand. Here is what you need to know.
When you divorce, the legal status of the properties you own changes. What used to be considered joint property may no longer be the case. Each state has unique property division laws that apply to divorce cases.
Unlike most other U.S. states. Washington is not an equitable distribution state. Under the state’s divorce laws, there is a strong presumption that all assets and debts acquired during a marriage are community property. So, things like vehicles, stocks/bonds, personal property, retirement accounts, and debts will be split equally by the courts. That is unless the parties can reach an agreement on their own.
The courts in Washington can award various types of spousal maintenance, also referred to as alimony. These payments are meant to ensure that neither spouse becomes destitute after a divorce. Factors that the court will consider when awarding spousal maintenance include the length of the marriage and any income disparity between the parties.
When it comes to your minor children, there are two types of custody to consider – physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the day-to-day care of your children. Most parents in Washington are encouraged to opt for “joint physical custody.” But “sole physical custody” is an option when the situation warrants.
When there is a co-parenting arrangement, both parties will need to negotiate a “Parenting Plan” that is in the best interests of the children. The plan will address specifics such as visitation schedules and holidays.
Legal custody refers to which parent will make key decisions about the children’s care and upbringing, such as things related to medical care, schooling, and religious affiliation. Again, most parents share joint legal custody of their children.
Child support is often a contentious issue for parents, but it’s also one of the most straightforward ones. The payments are meant to provide the custodial parent with money to help pay basic support for the day-to-day care of the children.
The Washington Child Support Guidelines outline a basis for child support figures. They consider factors such as the income and expenses of both parents, healthcare premiums and costs for children, and childcare costs.
If you and your spouse are having difficulty settling these or other issues, the attorneys at Bighorse & Associates will work to get you the best outcome from your divorce. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.