How Do You Legally Establish Paternity?

Though a large part of our practice is centered around divorce cases, we also represent clients who have other types of family law matters to address. Paternity is one of them, and there are a number of different circumstances that can call for proof of paternity. Before we get into them, we should point out the fact that paternity is automatically granted to the husband when a married woman has a child. This also applies to couples who are in registered domestic partnerships.

When a child is born outside of wedlock, there is no automatic presumption of paternity. There are legal steps that must be taken to establish it, and the form that must be executed is called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Both parents have to sign it, and in many cases, this will be done right after the baby’s birth before the mother and child are discharged from the hospital. It can also be executed at a later date through the Division of Child Support Office.

Other situations can get a bit more complicated. In some cases, a man will refute a contention that he is the father of the child. This is one type of situation that would require the establishment of paternity, and sometimes it works in the reverse. A man may feel as though he is the father of a child, but the mother may contend that he is not.

Under circumstances like these when there is no concurrence, either party, the child in question, or the state can initiate a court proceeding to determine paternity. We should point out the fact that the Division of Child Support can sometimes get involved in these matters. Ultimately, a Petition to Establish Parentage is filed, and if the parties can’t reach a voluntary agreement with regard to paternity, the court has the power to order a DNA test to provide closure.

Contact our office today

Our firm can help if you would like to discuss paternity or any other family law matter with a licensed attorney. You can set up an initial consultation right now if you give us a call at 253-272-9459.

Free Family Law Resources

There are many different intricacies that must be addressed when you are going through a divorce or some other family law matter, and the maze can be very confusing. We answer a lot of questions at the confidential consultations that we have with our clients, and we offer a great deal of very useful information right here on our website. This blog is updated regularly, and we also offer some additional permanent resources.

As we have stated, we do in fact respond to a lot of the same queries, so we have created a page that provides answers to frequently asked questions about family law matters. If you spend a little time digesting this information, you will come away with a solid foundation of knowledge to draw from going forward.

In addition to the frequently asked questions, our readers have access to a very carefully prepared, in-depth Washington divorce guide. This publication will provide you with some very valuable insight if you are going to be entering into the divorce process. One facet that it touches upon is the possibility that a divorce may actually be a very positive step for your family. It need not be looked upon as something that is entirely negative.

Our monthly newsletter is another source of ongoing family law information that you can receive in your inbox free of charge. You can simply subscribe here, and we assure you that you will be glad that you did, because family law matters evolve as time goes on. This newsletter will keep you up to date.

Many people like to obtain their information through the written word, and as you can see, we provide many different ways for you to do just that. However, some individuals prefer to watch videos to build on their knowledge, and we have you covered in this area as well. Our library of educational family law of videos can be accessed at any time, and you can gain valuable insight into a plethora of different topics if you watch these presentations.

All of these resources are invaluable, but there is no substitute for an in-person, one-on-one consultation with a licensed family law attorney. Tacoma residents can set up an appointment by phone right now at 253-272-9459, and you can alternately reach us through our contact page if you would prefer to get in touch electronically.


Legal Separation vs. Divorce: What’s the Difference?

There are a couple of different legal ways that you can separate yourself from your spouse. As we all know, a divorce or dissolution of marriage is one option. When a divorce takes place, arrangements are made with regard to the separation of property, child custody, child support, etc. At the end of the process, each person is once again single and unattached in the eyes of the law.

A legal separation is another possibility for couples who want to go their separate ways without severing the marriage knot. In some cases, the individuals involved are not entirely sure that they will never get back together again. However, in other instances, they feel as though there will never be a reconciliation. Why would a couple choose a legal separation over divorce if there was no hope of getting back together in the future? There are a few different scenarios that could make legal separation a better choice.

In some cases, a couple can realize significant tax benefits if they stay legally married, and this is one reason why a legal separation can be preferable. Health insurance is a basic necessity of life, and the couple may choose legal separation over divorce to preserve benefits if one party is covered under the other’s policy. Military spouses may be able to receive benefits if they remain legally married, so legal separation can be a good choice for some military couples.

There can also be Social Security implications that can tilt the scales in favor of a legal separation. If you have been married for least 10 years, and your own Social Security record would provide you with less than half of what your spouse is receiving, your benefit would be half of what your spouse is entitled to. Couples will sometimes choose legal separation so that they can reach this ten-year threshold.

Take the Next Step

We have provided a bit of basic information in this brief blog post. If you are a local resident who would like to explore this subject in more detail, we would be more than glad to assist you. We offer informative initial consultations at our Tacoma, Washington family law office, and you can set up an appointment right now if you give us a call at 253-272-9459.


Can a Parenting Plan Be Modified?

One of the most important issues that will be on the table if you are getting divorced as a parent of dependent children will be the matter of child custody. Our family law practice is centered in Tacoma, Washington, and in our state a parenting plan must be presented to the court when a divorce proceeding is underway.

Clearly, it is best if both parents can come to a mutually agreeable arrangement. In many cases, one parent will have physical custody, with the other parent enjoying visitation rights. Legal custody gives a parent the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child. Even if one parent has primary physical custody, both parents can have legal custody. It should be noted that the court will decide on a parenting plan after hearing all the facts if the parents cannot come to an agreement. The court would ultimately make a determination based on the best interests of the child.

Parenting Plan Modification

As we all know, the only constant in life is change. If circumstances shift at some point in time, one of the parents may feel as the though the existing parenting plan is no longer acceptable. Under these circumstances, in the state of Washington, the parent requesting the modification could file a Petition for Modification of Adjustment of Child Custody Decree/Parenting Plan.

The individual who is filing for the modification is considered to be the “moving parent”  in legal parlance. The moving parent must be able to convince the court that things have indeed changed significantly, and the moving parent must also  prove that the modification will serve the interests of the children. Unless the proposed changes are very minimal, the moving parent would be required to attend an adequate cause or threshold hearing to make his or her case for a parenting plan modification.

Schedule a Consultation

In addition to the Petition for Modification of Adjustment of Child Custody Decree/Parenting Plan, other forms must be filed, and you have a much better chance at success if you can proceed with the assistance of a licensed Seattle-Tacoma family law attorney. If you would like to discuss a parenting plan modification or any other matter with us, send us a quick message through our contact page to request an initial consultation.

Divorce After 50 Can Present Unique Challenges

Most divorces are going to be emotionally taxing on one level or another, and in many cases, there will be significant financial ramifications. When there are minor children involved, another layer of complexity will exist. This being stated, though there may not be any child custody or support issues,  older people who are getting divorced can face even greater challenges. On an emotional level, when you have been deeply invested in a relationship for decades, a breakup can be devastating. It can be hard to wrap your head around life as a single person after many years of marriage when you have seen your fiftieth birthday come and go.

Once you can find your emotional equilibrium, and you have to deal with the hand-to-mouth issues that go along with a divorce proceeding. Our family law office is in Tacoma, Washington, and The Evergreen State is a no-fault divorce state, so the circumstances surrounding a divorce need not be part of the equation.

Washington is a community property state as well, so any property that was acquired by either party during the marriage is generally split evenly. The exceptions to this rule would be inheritances and gifts that were given directly to just one spouse. Property that was owned by either person prior to the marriage that remained separate throughout the duration of the marriage would also be separate property after divorce.

Spousal support is another facet that can be very important when people who are over the age of 50 are getting divorced. In some cases, one spouse will be the primary breadwinner while the other spouse contributed to the marriage in different ways. The circumstances will be heavily weighed by the court, and the factors that will be taken into consideration would be the length of the marriage, the standard of living that the parties enjoyed, and the financial profile of each person exiting the marriage.

We Are Here to Help!

You should definitely have the appropriate legal representation by your side if you are going through a divorce as an older person. If you would like to set up a convenient initial consultation at our Tacoma, Washington family law office, give us a call right now at 253-272-9459.