Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?
In a legal separation, you officially remain married to your spouse, but all of your assets and debts are divided and spousal maintenance and provisions concerning children and their support are finalized.
In a divorce, all issues are finalized when the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is entered with the court, and you are no longer married.
If you have additional questions concerning legal separation or divorce, contact us. We invite you to let the experienced family law team at Roe Law answer any specific inquiries, e.g. those concerning:
- Collecting social security benefits earned by your spouse.
- Managing the issues that arise when one or both spouses hold religious beliefs concerning divorce.
- Maintaining health insurance coverage provided by the other spouse.
- Eligibility for COBRA health insurance coverage.
How long does a divorce or legal separation take?
In the State of Washington, there is a statutory waiting period of 90 days for the dissolution of a marriage from the time the petition is filed and then served on the non-filing spouse. There is no such minimum waiting period for legal separation. If either the divorce or separation is contested, however, it can take significantly longer than the minimum to complete the process.
How is child support determined?
Generally, child support is based on the Washington State Child Support Guidelines and Worksheets, which the court uses to determine the net incomes of the involved parties. Only certain deductions are allowed in these calculations; Roe Law will make ensure you're fully apprised of these.
If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court will generally impute (assign) an income to that parent. The factors used by the court to determine the amount of income to assign in such cases are specified in the aforementioned guidelines but include the following:
- Full-time earnings at the current rate of pay.
- Full-time earnings at the historical rate of pay based on reliable information, such as employment security department data.
- Full-time earnings at a past rate of pay where information is incomplete or sporadic.
- Full-time earnings at minimum wage in the jurisdiction where the parent resides if the parent has a recent history of minimum wage earnings; is recently coming off public assistance, general assistance-unemployable, supplemental security income, or disability; has recently been released from incarceration; or is a high school student.
- Median net monthly income of year-round full-time workers as derived from the United States Bureau of Census, current population reports, or replacement of such a report as published by the Bureau of Census.
Schedule a consultation with us today to get focused answers to your specific questions about which taxes, pension payments, union and/or professional dues, insurance premiums, retirement contributions, business expenses, and self-employment taxes are allowed in determining a parent’s net income.
Is there a minimum payment for child support?
The minimum amount of child support that may be ordered by the court is $50 per month per child.
Who covers the costs of a child’s college education?
Financial responsibility for a child's college education is determined on a case-by-case basis. At Roe Law, we have extensive experience negotiating college expense responsibilities. Contact us for guidance in navigating your unique case.
What is a parenting plan modification and how does it work?
Parenting plan modifications may occur after a "Final Order Parenting Plan" has been entered with the court. If a parent's circumstances substantially change, they can request that the court modify the existing parenting plan. "Major modifications" include changes to where children primarily reside. "Minor modifications" include changes that adjust the parenting plan by up to 24 days per year.
Such modifications can be complicated, so it is important to be fully informed of your rights before making or allowing any changes involving your parenting plan. We at Roe Law are experts capable of working with you to craft an effective strategy to either make or prevent changes to your parenting plan; contact us now to get started.
Are children allowed to choose the parent they live with?
It’s a common misconception that children who are at least 12 years of age are allowed to decide which parent to live with. In some cases, the court may consider the wishes of a child in formulating an initial parenting plan; however, this is not part of the State of Washington’s parenting plan modification statute. In appropriate instances, judges may consider the preferences of older teenagers.
How can military deployment affect my children and parenting plan?
Military deployment raises many questions for parents, e.g. what happens when either the primary residential parent or the visiting parent is deployed out of state. A parent’s military duties do not necessarily justify a permanent modification to their parenting plan. In most cases, a temporary change to their parenting plan will take place while the they are unable to provide parenting functions during their time away.
It is also important to know that the Washington State Legislature has enacted a provision that allows the court to delegate some or all of a military parent’s residential or visitation time to another family member, including a step-parent or other individual who has a close and substantial relationship to the minor.
If you or your child’s other parent is facing military deployment, it is imperative that you take steps to protect your rights and those of your child. Contact Roe Law today to find out more.
How do I handle a relocation or move with my children?
In the State of Washington, if you are the parent with whom your children live the majority of the time, there are important requirements that must be followed if you wish to move, even if it is local. In all cases, you must provide appropriate legal notices to the other parent, failure to adhere to which can have significant consequences.
At a minimum, you are required to provide the other parent with advance written notice of your intent to "relocate" or "move with the children." These advance notice provisions vary depending on how far you plan to move. There is more to relocation than just providing written notice to the non-custodial parent, however. A court hearing is required if the non-custodial parent objects to your proposed relocation.
If you are considering relocating or moving with your children, or if you have received notice that the other parent plans to move, full knowledge of your legal rights is essential to protect the relationship you share with your children. At Roe Law, we have years of experience navigating these often difficult procedures; contact us to learn more.
How is spousal support/maintenance determined?
Spousal support is not automatically granted in the State of Washington. The court will first review each spouse's financial declaration, which outlines monthly living expenses for both parties. After this, without considering any marital misconduct, the court may choose to order support for a specified amount and duration.
The court may consider relevant factors specified by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 26.09.090 in making its decision. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including separate or community property apportioned to them and their ability to independently meet their own needs and the needs of any children appointed to live with them.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to their skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances.
- The established standard of living of the party seeking maintenance.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet their needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
Contact the experts at Roe Law for assistance in determining whether the court will consider awarding spousal maintenance in your specific case.