DIVORCE (DISSOLUTION) – RCW 26.09
For those involved in a Washington State divorce, we serve our local, statewide and national divorce clients from our office in Richland that serves the greater Kennewick/Pasco/Richland areas and surrounding communities (including Walla Walla).
We know divorce is not just a legal process. It is an intimate human experience.
The rights and responsibilities related to our family relationships are among the most sacred in both our society and in our personal lives. Respecting that fact, our mission as a firm is rooted in two equally important driving goals:
- To deliver successful legal and client focused results.
- To provide compassionate, responsive, and personalized client service throughout your case.
COMPREHENSIVE DIVORCE REPRESENTATION
Our history is rooted primarily in representing clients in their divorce proceedings. This includes negotiation, mediation and/or litigation of all the issues that may arise in a divorce case, such as property division, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, etc.
Every divorce case is unique, and so is our office. We offer a personal touch to each case while providing experience in complex litigation during your difficult time.
Every divorce case requires a distribution of property and debt, establishing a parenting plan and child support if there are children, provisions for other common issues found in most divorces, and entry of a divorce decree which legally ends the marriage. Nevertheless, every divorce is as unique as the individuals and circumstances of each case.
The unique circumstances of each case always gives rise to other laws that intersect with or impact a divorce case, such as laws related to tax, real estate, ERISA, military retirement and benefits, intellectual property rights, executive compensation, privately held businesses, wills and trusts, criminal law, and domestic violence—just to name a few.
Some of these unique types of cases that we specialize in include:
This includes cases involving community (marital) or separate (pre or post marriage) property interests in family businesses, privately held companies, partnerships, stock options and other executive compensation arrangements, professional practices, unique investment vehicles, collectibles, spousal support or maintenance (alimony payments), and debt division.
Divorces and relocation cases involving child custody disputes can be complex and difficult, often times involving court appointed professionals (Guardians Ad litem –GAL) or investigators whose findings and opinions can significantly impact the case—for good or bad, right or wrong. Once set in motion, the findings and orders entered by the court can be very difficult to reverse or change in the future. At Purcell Law, we are proficient in representing clients in contested child custody matters, and are dedicated to the protection of mothers’ and fathers’ rights.
We can address the unique issues that arise when one or both parties in a divorce are over the age of 50.
Gay and Lesbian Divorce
Until there is universal marriage equality throughout all states and the federal government, members of the LGBT community will be forced to continually navigate an evolving environment of family law rights and responsibilities. Our firm has represented members of the LGBT community and we understand the unique issues associated with such a relationship.
Most divorce cases are settled out of court using a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, arbitration, collaborative divorce, or cooperative divorce. All forms require successful negotiation skills and strategy. In representing our clients, we negotiate from a position of strength, which is rooted in tireless preparation and research.
High Conflict Divorce Litigation
Most divorce cases are resolved by agreement between the parties. But some are not. For high conflict cases or cases that go to trial, it is critical for the law firm you hire to have experienced, proven divorce litigators. Purcell Law is among the most proven divorce litigators in the communities we serve with a wide variety of experience stretching beyond just Washington State.
This includes addressing issues specific to civil service or military service which can include retirement benefits and processing service for deployed, active duty, reserve, or retired military personnel.
Child support is not only an issue in divorce cases, but can arise in other family law cases such as parenting plan modifications, paternity, non-parental custody, and relocation. Child support cases are often complex, requiring representation from a knowledgeable lawyer.
Division of Property in Washington Divorce
One of the primary objectives of divorce is dividing property. Property includes not only assets, but also liabilities. When a couple chooses to divorce in Washington, the court is tasked with dividing all property equitably.
We understand that dividing assets and debts can be a difficult issue in divorce. Our initial approach is to negotiate a property settlement and reach a fair agreement outside of court. However, in the event an agreement cannot be reached, we are always prepared to litigate to protect our client’s best interests. We are here to help guide you through this process to secure a fair and equitable division of property.
Types of Assets Divided in a Divorce
Assets divided upon divorce differ drastically from case to case. However, certain assets characterize most property division cases. Including:
- Money – Financial assets that can include funds in your checking, savings and investment accounts, for example.
- Home – The family home is considered real property and an asset that is commonly divided upon divorce. Vacant land or other owned buildings are also real property that may be divided upon divorce.
- Retirement – This includes funds such as 401(k) accounts and pensions.
- Business – Any businesses owned, as well as business-owned property and the business’s accounts receivable.
- Taxes – This includes tax refunds and any other tax credits.
- Investments – such as brokerage accounts and interests in closely held business.
Other common assets divided in divorce include deferred compensation, credit cards, patents/copyrights, art and related valuables, insurance policies, and household furnishings. Property division questions may be more complex when dissolving longer marriages.
How Does the Court Divide Property?
Washington is a community property state. Some community property states require that community property be divided equally upon divorce. In Washington divorce cases, the court is required to divide all property equitably, whether the property is characterized as community or separate.
Under Washington law, assets and debts accrued during the marriage are typically considered as belonging to the marital community, while assets and debts acquired pre-marriage or post- separation are considered separate property and usually remain with the respective spouse. However, a court may sometimes choose to award one spouse’s separate property to the other spouse in order to achieve a fair and equitable distribution of property.
What Factors can Determine How my Property is Divided?
There are a variety of factors that can influence how your property is divided in divorce. Some of those factors include:
- How long you were married.
- The ages of both spouses.
- Current income and income potential.
- Education level.
- The existence of non-marital resources (ex: a trust).
- Financial needs.
- Medical conditions that create a financial need.
- Prenuptial agreement.
- Whether the couple lived together before marriage.
Valuation of Assets
Understanding the true value and scope of your property in divorce is paramount to achieving a fair division of assets between you and your spouse. The value of certain assets may be fairly simple to determine, while other assets require value appraisals or input from certified accountants. At Purcell Law, we take the necessary steps to prove the value of your property in order to properly prepare for negotiations, or for presentation to the court.
SELECTING A WASHINGTON DIVORCE ATTORNEY
Consulting with a divorce lawyer who has extensive experience in complex property division cases is essential to ensuring that your divorce results in an equitable distribution of assets. We invite you to contact us. Our office will assist you in identifying whether we are best suited to meet your family law needs, and will help you schedule a consultation appointment. We represent clients throughout the state of Washington and have represented numerous clients who reside outside of Washington as far away as Florida. We possess the extensive experience you need to ensure that your assets are protected in a complex divorce proceeding. We invite you to contact us to arrange a consultation regarding your situation.