Vancouver Divorce & Family Law Attorneys

The Vancouver divorce and family law attorneys of Spencer & Sundstrom PLLC represent clients in a variety of family law matters, including divorce and dissolution, separation agreements, child custody and visitation, post-divorce modifications, adoptions, domestic violence, and relocations. Some frequently asked questions we receive regarding these cases include the following:

How do I file for divorce?

You may file for divorce in Washington by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. The petition is then served with a summons on your spouse. Together, the summons and petition notify your spouse that you wish to dissolve the marriage. Washington is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means you may file for divorce for any reason as long as the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

How long will the divorce take?

The State of Washington imposes a 90 day waiting period before any divorce can be finalized with a Decree of Dissolution. This waiting period begins on the date you file the summons and petition and serve the papers on your spouse. During the 90 day waiting period, the hope is that the spouses can come to a reconciliation or amicable divorce settlement. If that does not occur, a Notice to Set for Trial is filed with the court. Dissolution proceedings typically take anywhere from 90 days (if you can agree on all of the terms of the divorce) to one year or longer to resolve, depending on the particular issues and parties involved.

How will child custody be determined?

If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on how your children will spend their time, Washington law instructs the court to decide custody based on “the best interests of the children.” To make this determination, the court considers a variety of factors, including any background information about the parents it finds relevant, and the following:

  • The relative strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, including whether a parent has taken greater parenting responsibility;
  • The agreements of the parties, provided they were entered into knowingly and voluntarily;
  • Each parent’s past and potential future performance of parenting functions;
  • The child’s emotional needs and developmental level;
  • The child’s relationship with siblings and other significant adults, as well as the child’s involvement with his or her physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities;
  • The parents’ wishes;
  • The child’s wishes, if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to his or her residential schedule; and
  • Each parent’s employment schedule and ability and willingness to make accommodations consistent with those schedules.

Unless the court finds reason to rule otherwise, a parent who is not awarded custody will be awarded reasonable visitation rights, subject to certain statutory limitations. Typically, a court will only approve a “joint custody” residential schedule where the parents have demonstrated their dedication to this arrangement by continuing to reside within the same neighborhood and/or school districts; have flexible, yet stable, employment histories; and have a demonstrated history of interpersonal communication and cooperation with one another concerning the welfare of their children.

How is Child Support determined?

Under Washington law, child support is determined based on an “amount reasonable or necessary for the child’s support.” The actual amount is based on the state’s child support schedule, which considers both parents’ monthly net incomes but generally does not exceed 45% of a parent’s net income except where the court finds good cause.

What is Deferred Prosecution?

Deferred Prosecution allows a defendant to avoid a DUI conviction in exchange for compliance with a very strict two year alcohol or substance abuse program. Under current law, a person is eligible for Deferred Prosecution only once. Typically, a Petition for Deferred Prosecution is filed with the court. In this petition, the defendant acknowledges guilt, admits to having an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs, and waives any right to contest the charges. The defendant then waives his or her right to a speedy trial for a period of up to three years, during which the defendant agrees to enter into and complete a state certified treatment program at his or her own expense. A Deferred Prosecution may not be appropriate or available in all cases, and it is important that you consult with counsel regarding any specific case.

What should I do if I have been charged with a DUI?

It is important to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible who can assist you with preparing for your first court appearance and arraignment.

Additionally, if you have failed a blood or breath test or refused to submit to the test, you may receive notice of an administrative suspension/revocation action filed by the Washington State Department of Licensing. This administrative suspension/revocation is separate from any penalty that the court may impose if you are convicted. Under current law, you have 30 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing to challenge the suspension or revocation of your license. An experienced attorney can assist you with requesting and handling this hearing.

Seek Experienced Defense Counsel

If you would like to obtain a divorce, or if you are already involved in a family law dispute, it is important to seek experienced legal counsel to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.

To schedule a consultation to discuss your family law case, contact the Vancouver family lawyers of Spencer & Sundstrom PLLC today. To schedule a consultation regarding your case, call us at 877-574-6109 or fill our web consultation request form today.

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