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Hello thanks for tuning in this is the all about divorce show and I’m a Monica Cary and I’m here with my law partner Amanda Dubois we are family law lawyers in Seattle and we operate out of our peaceful waterfront office in Fremont with our team of sharp and compassionate lawyers so today we’re gonna be talking about divorce 101 alright which is which is how do we get the whole process started yeah so let’s start off by talking about starting your divorce there’s lots of different ways that a divorce starts but before you even get to the point where you show up in a lawyer’s office or file any legal papers or anything you have to do some planning so let’s talk about pre-planning for divorce and let’s start off by talking about the financial aspect so there’s two parts to a divorce generally speaking one is financial and the other is parenting so let’s start with money that’s probably the most scary thing for people what it is because you’re going from a household where you have two incomes usually in one house and now you’re going to try to figure out how you’re gonna have two households and you’re going to manage two households but even more scary than that is identifying what your assets are because that sort of just sounds like a scary thing to do so I think we should do is start by defining what is an asset Monica
well an asset is pretty much everything that you’ve acquired during your marriage mostly it can be it can be bank accounts it can be investment accounts it can be retirement accounts real estate obviously and even personal property art things like that what personal property like jewelry and coke cars and almost you don’t typically need to go through all of the little personal property but if you have a collection or artwork or this would be an expensive piece of personal property like an RV or a boat or something like that those are things you want to think about another thing you want to think about is if one of you owns a business because that’s also an asset that you have so to begin with you need to get out a piece of paper or pull up a spreadsheet on your computer and start listing everything that you can think of that you own and the first thing you’re probably gonna put on there is your house right then you’re gonna figure out where do we have bank accounts so it’s a tricky one because a lot of times in marriage is more only one spouse is the one controlling a lot of the the bank accounts and the investment accounts that’s exactly right so if you’re thinking about divorce and you’re still in the family home you have a huge advantage because this is the time when you want to get into the file cabinet that’s right you want to look for bank accounts you want to look for stock investment accounts you’re looking for things like Merrill Lynch or Schwab or tax return mobility you certainly want to get your tax returns because it’s crazy– important that you know how much money you earn and you’d be surprised at the number of people
Monica you had a case one time where what was going on they didn’t know about my client was a woman and she had been living on a shoestring budget with her husband and you know she loved him and and he said okay honey I got the tax returns ready here sign here he actually would put a post-it note on the adjusted gross gross income and she would sign and she didn’t even think about it because she trusted her husband because that’s kind of what you do well it turns out that he was a multi-millionaire and he had he had a stake in a very large international company and she had no idea so how was let’s talk about her for a minute that how could she have saved herself the trouble of you know after the fact you then had to figure it out correct and that cost her a lot of money in legal fees it did and it was no perfect for her but if she could back up what advice would you give her if she were still in the family home and she had come to you before everything hit the fan you know I would I wish she was so sad I would have probably told her you need to get a therapist so that you can get your psychological a game on and you need to find out where all those tax returns are find out who your CPA is and if you don’t have the tax returns at home go to your CPA and ask for them because if you signed a tax return guess what you have a right to go to the CPA and get a copy of it correct so that’s something that’s a surprise to most people they think some people say well my other spouse takes care of that but if you sign that tax return it’s yours as well so you’re looking for bank accounts you’re looking for investment accounts you’re looking for evidence of other real estate that might be owned
for example if you’re seeing when you’re rifling through the file cabinet maybe you might see what are you paying property tax on a piece of property they don’t recognize may be either in another state or may be someplace else in the state of Washington like oh so you want to be kind of like a straight home you’re really looking for things that just don’t fit in so you and not that everybody has hidden stuff but it’s really surprising to me how often people come in and they either know nothing or they think they know everything and then they find out later that there’s more to be discovered right another thing to do is to look through the bank records you’re looking for unusual payments especially if you’ve been having marital difficulties for some time it’s not completely unusual for one spouse to be putting money in another bank account so you’re looking through if you can get a copy of the bank statements you’re looking through to see you know large either a wire transfers or a big checks you know especially in round numbers like five thousand dollars right that’s coming out of your bank account you might want to sort of flag that so the reason that you’re doing this is because the time by the time you get to a lawyer and you’re already in the whole upset of the divorce it’s harder to go back and retrace these steps and then you have to get involved in the legal discovery process which is really expensive right and and it’s better when you go talk to the lawyer like in my case for example if she had the tax returns I would have had a lot more to work with right from the get-go right and they would have it was any attorneys fees correct and not to mention all the emotional drama that goes along with yeah it’s so hard okay so what else do we have we have retirement accounts here’s the good news or bad news depending on which side you’re on some people are really surprised to discover that retirement accounts are separate e property
so what that means is that if one person and this is really common one person comes in and says you know what I’ve been saving for retirement I’m really responsible my spouse has been buying boats or cars or collecting things with their money but I have a huge retirement savings it’s always really it’s like giving the bad news that to tell someone that actually that’s a community to the extent that it was earned while you were together right and that that’s probably that’s can be thrown into the pot of community assets to split up at the end and on the flip side if you are the maybe the non breadwinning my spouse and you think I I’m 45 and I haven’t saved anything for retirement guess what we’re gonna try to get you some of that because half of it’s yours exactly and while we’re talking about the whole idea of what can so there’s a concept in the state of Washington called community property and what that means is that everything that you earn while you’re together and everything that you purchase with your earnings is considered a joint asset to be which is separate idea than something called separate property and what separate property means is if you had something before you were married so for example you had a house before you were married then and then you get married and then you live in the house there’s a way to separate some of that house out as your separate property or if you had a retirement account like an IRA back from when you were younger and you had that before you were married and then you got married and if you kept that IRA separate then you can claim that as a separate asset at time of the divorce right other types of separate property would be what inheritance
if someone gave you a gift just to you that would be separate property the then the next legal concept that comes into that situation is called commingling and the reason we’re talking about all this now before you even get to the divorce is the more you can do your homework and sort of be thinking about this especially when you still have access to all the information the better off you’ll be so commingling means you had a separate asset so let’s use the example of a retirement account so you had a separate asset and you worked maybe for 10 years before you got married and it was a 401k and then you got married and then you kept contributing to that 401k and then you stayed married for 15 more years at some point it becomes difficult to separate out sometimes the separate aspect of that 401k which was the premarital part versus the part that you put in while you were married which is the community part it’s possible to do that by hiring a financial tracing expert a CPA who’s an expert in doing that tracing but just for purposes of thinking about it going into the divorce you want to consider whether you have any separate assets and here’s why it’s super super important is the person who’s claiming separate property has the burden of proof to prove that that’s separate and those that burden of proof is always going to be an old bank records and old stock account records and what else
Monica do we look for purchase and sale agreements from your first house and a lot of times people who are in a marriage that’s in trouble can walk out of the family home without thinking through what evidence they’re leaving behind that they will need to prove the separate property aspect of their assets and once they move out and their spouse has control over that the paperwork it often disappears especially because even though a lot of things you you can get on electronic records so you can’t go back far enough frequently to get the actual documents from the bank from ten years ago or something like they go back usually about seven years so you get people have been married 20 years and they say oh I had such and such when I got married and we’re saying well we need an account statement and oftentimes they’ll say well I know I have it but it’s in they don’t have it or been destroyed I had it but it something happened so so to kind of go over this again you want to gather all your financial information your bank accounts your stock statements your retirement accounts you want to consider the concept of separate property and whether you think you have any that would also include titles to things like if you had a RV or a car or something before you got married and you still have the title to that and you can show that it was purchased before you were married you could make a separate property claim to that as well I think it’s time for us to take a break we’ll come back and we’ll talk about parenting issues.
Welcome back thanks for tuning in to all about divorce I’m Monica Cary I’m here with my law partner Amanda Dubois we work for the Du Bois carry law group over in Fremont or family law lawyers and today we’re talking about divorce 101 we’re just getting ready to talk about parenting issues and what to think about as you’re heading into a divorce and actually this segment applies to people who are married or unmarried anybody who has children in common and what you need to think about when you’re splitting up from two from one home into two homes Amanda so what do you think what’s the first thing that people should think about well I think the first thing to think about is and run a backup for a minute and say this is the stuff you want to be thinking about before everything gets so bad that you’re so emotional and you can’t make rational decisions so if your marriage is in trouble and you’re you can see it heading down the pike that’s when you want to first of all that’s when you want to go get some legal advice yes and as a complete aside if you go to get legal advice at this point in your marriage you probably just want to pay cash because I know because when you people get a divorce and all their finances become sort of public record and if you have a charge or a check or a sum on your credit card that shows you’ve been to a divorce people know that you are sort of planning so that series very aside titli ever have a friend pay for it or something like that but anyway it’s a good idea to go talk to a lawyer and here’s why because parenting is decided pretty much in a case by case basis and it’s decided based upon statutory factors and without going through the boring list of factors the the gist of it is is that the court wants the children to be in a situation that’s stable and it’s sort of like what they’ve known so if one parent is never home and the other parent is home all the time the courts going to be more likely to decide that the child should be with the parent who’s been home more in the past yes although they say that that’s changing these days I think more and more the courts are getting closer to 50/50 but you can never be guaranteed of that it’s discretionary it really depends on the person who’s on the bench exactly and that’s not to say that you’re necessarily going to court but lawyers talk like that because we have to sort of plan it as though we’re going to go to court because when you get into negotiation with the other side you need to be able to sort of have the leverage to say look if we end up in front of a judge here’s what’s gonna happen yes I think that’s they know that the negotiation seems like a really big part of it and actually just to kind of piggyback on what you said earlier about paying your lawyer in cash it’s not so much that the court is gonna care that you went to see a lawyer a year before the divorce it’s that it’s gonna make for a really hard co-parenting relationship if you were simultaneously trying to work on your relationship and go get legal advice about what to do if it all goes down exactly so that said what you want to think about is let’s assume that you are the parent who works maybe more than the other parent or maybe even you both work equally but what you have to think about is when it comes time to sort of you’re gonna have to prove your relationship with your children and it sounds really cold and harsh but what the court and what the lawyers are gonna be looking for is some sort of objective data like paperwork that can show how much you’re involved with your children and we never think like that so the number one thing that always pops up first is the daycare records because those are records and those will show if you say oh yeah I’m this really great parent and I’m always involved with my kids but you’ve never dropped them off at daycare and you’ve never picked them up from daycare that’s something that the court will always look at to say well you know you’re not even involved because we’re looking for that record of you being with your children so the first thing you want to think about and this is really especially hard for working moms because a lot of times the dads are the ones who do some of the driving but the moms are the ones who are doing the parenting right and we have to tell them you know you really need to think about being the drop-off or the pickup person so if you’re in a situation where you’re working mom and you end up let’s say doing all of the weekends the weekend time with your kids which is exhausting when you’re working full time and your
hypothetical speaking and your husband does all of the pickups and drop-offs at school you know the court really does like to look at something concrete and the concrete record is the drop-offs and pickups Islands and if it says your husband’s name every time and you’re going in there saying oh no I am a supermom which you might be I’m a supermom I work full-time and I do everything because he picks them up but I meet him at home and I make dinner for my kid and make sure that my kid has a bath goes to bed and all that stuff not oh that’s there’s no record of any of that and then you get into the he said/she said in court and so what you want and you know people often don’t tell the trees in court really or they tell their truth and and so that’s why the daycare records become so important and likewise the pediatrician records a lot of times if you especially if you have a smaller child with a baby or something and you have those baby the well baby visits and everything the courts gonna want to see oftentimes the doctors will write in the chart notes child with mom or mom and dad here yeah so the courts gonna want to see that stuff so when you’re preparing those are things that you can you can always go get your your children’s doctor record your pediatrician records to show that you’re the one or at least both of you take them exactly another thing that I tell people is because you’re always looking for written proof of your involvement with your children think about well here’s what always comes out in divorces is your credit card records yes and if you are saying that I’m this great parent and I cook dinner every night but in your credit cards it shows that you’re at the local bar every night or it shows that you’re out to dinner at a non child you know you’re not chuck-e-cheeses you know it you’re at some fancy restaurant that can sort of backfire on you so what you want to do is you want to make sure that you are doing things with your children and paying with a credit card for child related activities so that’s brilliant I have never even thought about that Amanda and so impressed well write it down I’m gonna write it down just talk about it you can go to the I don’t know the names of places because I don’t have a little kid but there’s that place where you paint ceramics or something yeah like pretty boy pizza and all the different kid places yeah you could go to write so you want to be if you’re not picking up from daycare and you are actually meeting your husband or wife at home and you are actually being involved with the child and think about making a record through your credit cards and your ATM withdrawals because we track people around through those ATM withdrawals all the time we do it’s true and we’ll look at those yeah and it’s the same thing as true for people you know says oh I’m in town all the time because I’m home all weekend with my kids or maybe your spouse is saying oh I’m there all weekend and then this your clients saying well he’s never there he’s always someplace well then we get his credit card records and lo and behold you see skiing you see somebody at Whistler you see them at baseball games and football games I mean it’s really it sounds horrible but you can really tell a lot about a person by looking at their credit card records and where they’ve been so if you’re heading into a divorce gonna be pretty cognizant to the fact that’s something that’s gonna follow you around and it sounds completely unrelated to parenting but it really can it really is we had a client one time I don’t tell stories too much but where the father was pretending that he was on a business trip someplace and the mother was home with the kids and it turned out that he was actually not at the business trip where he said he wasn’t he was actually in town but he had to pretend like he was on the business trip when she called with the medical emergency for one of the children he had to pretend like he was flying back in from Kansas or someplace because he was with his girlfriend but anyway then when the records all came out and then the discovery was made that he was in fact with a girlfriend things kind of blew up from there so be really careful about what you do and who you’re doing it with and what’s in your credit card records because that backfires on parenting when you’re in court when your credibility is shot your credibility is shot forever so that was a situation that was really bad for that particular parent I would say another thing is in terms of you know sort of tweaking your behaviors so that you can be a little bit more ready for heading into a divorce another thing that I often talk to especially these days a lot of clients can telecommute they actually have the opportunity to telecommute and work from home but it’s hard to work from home sometimes and so I will often meet with clients who are who are working full time and I’ll see whether they can just shift their hours just a little bit going to work a little earlier just so you can do the pickup or or work from home one day a week and see if maybe you can get some help and have the child at home with you but that you’re still there with the child so that you have more of a record to show of you know of your your time with it with the children
Monica what about Facebook so the Internet’s Facebook might I guess in terms of that stuff the worst thing is when your client comes in and says yeah I’m really really responsible and I’ve been working really hard with my kids and I do everything and then you go into court and there are a million pictures of your your you know happy homemaker Martha Stewart mom getting drunk at a bar or looking visibly drunk at a bar so if you were thinking about heading into divorce do not tag yourself in pictures set your privacy settings really high lawyers are on Facebook they’re paralegals are on Facebook and your spouse is on Facebook and often times they’re friends with your friends so you’d want to make sure that you get all that stuff off of the pictures off of their way way before you head into a divorce that’s exactly right so just think about where you show up in the world and and what kinds of information people can gather about you if you’re heading into a divorce and another piece of that is you know there’s a little there’s a lot of software out there and sometimes spouses put spyware and things like that on their laptop so if you are trying to contact a lawyer we please be cognizant of that as well and make sure that I would generally want to open a different email address and only access it from a public computer not necessarily from your laptop or something like that at least at the beginning so the point of this is there’s a lot that you can do to plan with regard to the parenting aspect of your divorce prior to filing for divorce so that it puts you in a good position to get a good parenting plan going forward because if you if you don’t do that the consequences can be pretty serious because you could end up with a parenting plan that limits your time with your children and nobody wants to have to deal with exactly this could if you don’t mind me jumping in here ladies there was someone of I guess acquaintance through here that went I guess on her behalf and started mentioning the behavior of both parties online on Facebook and started blasting that to drive attention and also opinions you know and suggestions about what’s going on which I think you should definitely refrain from doing completely as well let the professionals like yourselves handle it rather than going online and getting it elsewhere when also these days which you think you could maybe pull a good part to your side in the case which you think would be a good move but in sense it’s not because you’re putting it in blasting it publicly which I don’t think as I never get on well exactly just before you do anything in in a situation where you’re going to be in the legal arena is think about how that would look in front of a judge because it will end up I mean I can guarantee that if you do something crazy like that you’re gonna be explaining that to someone in a black robe about why you thought it was good to air your family’s dirty laundry all across Facebook and the judges are the judges care a lot about kids care a lot about parents responsibility and maturity and that there’s nothing good that can come from and there’s a statutory restriction for that I mean that can actually limit your residential time with your client with your children if the court finds that it’s the abuse abuse a conflict I mean it’s a really big deal it’s as big as a deal as alcohol abuse that’s true you know and so I think it when you become a parent you’re called upon to have to kind of to your higher self and when you’re going through a divorce you’re called upon to the way yourself I think we have to go ahead and take a break here but thanks for tuning in this is the all about divorce show I’m Monica Cary and I’m here with Amanda Dubois we’re talking about divorce 101
Thanks for tuning in this is the all about divorce show I’m Monica Cary here with Amanda Dubois we’re talking about divorce 101 right now and I think at this point we’re in talk about ongoing financial security so that typically means how are you going to support yourself after you get divorced and the whole point of this particular show is to try to anticipate these things prior to walking out or becoming to the situation where you can’t stand it anymore and then you have to make some decisions when you’re in a pretty emotional state so backing up you think your marriage might be heading for divorce maybe you’re in counseling maybe things are you’re hoping that things are going to be able to stay together but you’re thinking that it’s possible you might end up in a divorce you need to start thinking about what it’s gonna look like for your family financially and so the first thing to do is think about your budget as you move from one home to two homes and and what the first part with the child is child support so child support is based on a formula that the state legislature came up with and it’s really only meant to cover room and board wouldn’t you say pretty much yeah I mean it’s not very much money and it’s it’s it depends which side you’re on yeah exactly you’re paying the child support it feels like a lot if you’re receiving the child support it’s like are you kidding me you think I’ve raised a kid on $800 a month right and if you and so the other piece of your budget of your income would be the spousal maintenance or alimony or in your wages and your wages so one way to look at it is if you think about I’m gonna have to have my own household you need to be really brutally honest with yourself about the first question for most people is can I keep the family home yes and a family home there’s one part of a family home is your mortgage and that is what it is we everybody knows what their mortgage is but the piece that’s always unknown is what kind of shape is your house in I mean they’re you gonna end up with a house that has a broken sewer line or an easy roof or the furnaces about to blow out or the plumbing is all I mean you really it that’s one of the hardest things next to your children I think that second hardest thing is the thought of maybe losing your home right but you need to be very businesslike about it you need to really take a very hard cold look at what’s it going to look like for me to live in this house by myself pay the mortgage and be able to make those ongoing repairs and I mean some of those repairs are really expensive and I think a lot of times it’s because of your children you know you don’t want your children to have to move again but kids are very resilient and if you are moving into a place that you can manage it’s gonna make your kids your kids are gonna be fine I mean you’re gonna be happier because you’re gonna be so stressed out about having to come up with all this money and if you’re in the middle of a divorce one thing that can happen is that there can be financial restraints that are applied to both sides and you your assets can be frozen essentially and if you want to make a major repair to the house you’re probably gonna have to get the other side’s permission to get paid to pay for it exactly if the other side thinks you want the house then they’re not so inclined you know I’ve had clients living and houses in Seattle in the winter with no furnace because there’s a big fight going on over whether you can take enough money out to fix the furnace right and they can take a while to get into court or to just get an answer and stuff like that so it is a really it that is a really emotional issue but it’s true which is what I’m and I said you have to put your business hat on and really think about what’s gonna be good for you in the long term so one thing you really want to think about doing is if you have a friend who’s got some financial savvy this is the person you want to sit down with with some of that graph paper like my dad used to get out and start writing your budget down so you really want to put you know what’s the mortgage what do you really pay for groceries in a month what do you pay there’s a nice format I’m called a financial declaration that you can find in the king county website talks all the different aspects of you know your insurance your cell phone your car payment your insurance payments everything that you pay on a monthly basis and need to really look at that carefully and then you need to look at your income and if it’s becomes increasingly obvious that based on your income from your job you’re not going to be able to afford your basic living expenses then you will probably want to consider whether or not you qualify for spousal maintenance right and spout the purpose of spousal maintenance well there’s several different purposes but for a young person it’s basically – it’s called rehabilitative which means it’s enough to get you started to get yourself in a position where you can ultimately support yourself so and it’s it’s tied to the length of your marriage and a number of other factors but if you’re say in your 30s or 40s and you just don’t have a job that’s able you’re able to support yourself fully on then what you need to do is you need to come up with a plan – and your spouse has enough money to supplement your income because they have a larger salary than you for example then it’s incumbent on you and it’s your burden to come forward and come up with a plan like a full employment plan for me this is what I’m gonna do this is where it’s gonna get me and this is how long it’s gonna take and this is how much it’s gonna cost and that is sort of the way that a court will look at a spousal maintenance package one thing they’re looking at is make sure you can pay your mortgage and your other expenses but they they’re not gonna if you really want a good maintenance package you need to say and here’s why I need it because I’m gonna go to the Community College and I’m gonna take a class to become a computer program or a dental assistant or it has to be something where it can’t be like I’m gonna go study art history right unless your father owns a museum someplace or something it would only be yeah that in a few years I’m gonna be completely self-sufficient so this rehabilitated maintenance that I’m requesting now is just to kind of spring be a springboard for me to go you know have my own separate life and to that end what you want to do is there’s people called vocational assessment professionals and you know it’s they’re not cheap but they can be really worth it because you know a lot of people don’t really know what they want to do and so if you don’t know you can go to one of these vocational assessment professionals or you can even go to the your local community college they have yeah apartments world they’ll do testing for you and they’ll give you some idea of some jobs that you can get that are going to make you self-sufficient so even though you’ve got small children and even though here’s the common one but we agreed that I was gonna stay home with the children and he is violating an agreement and I’m sure that he wants me to stay home with the children and I’m sure that he doesn’t want me to go back to work and I’m and I’m sure and I’m sure that he probably is ready for you to go back to work because he’s now wanting to spring off in his own life right exactly because at one point he promised to stay with you forever and that was also promised right so that’s really really hard to sort of wrap your brain around the fact that your life is going to change that dramatically but if you’ve got a friend that can help you really put some focus on this I mean I’ve seen some amazing transformations of you know one I always encourage people to look into nursing because I used to be a nurse right and there’s just make really good money now and the hours are fantastic because you can choose your hours and you know it’s a good lifelong career for some and it’s meets a lot of the same needs that of a good mom you know nurturing and great caring for people so let’s talk about the flip side of suppose you’re the person who earns the money right and now your lawyer is telling you you’re gonna have to pay spousal maintenance to your spouse right so the question then becomes what can you do to minimize that and to support your spouse and becoming self-sufficient as soon as possible right so the tendency is to say well he or she they’re worthless and they can’t do anything but really what you really want to do is completely change your mindset on that you want to take the position that he or she is an amazing competent right person in the world and they will be able to get a great job in a short period of time because of all their innate talents and you want to happily pay them to go back to get themselves educated because over the long term you want to be able to show a court that that person will be able to support themselves so one thing I always tell people is tell me what they’re good at I mean what you want to be their best cheerleader and a really funny backwards kind of way in a divorce is you know what are they good at they’re good at good at organizational skills what kind of education have they had in the past anything that you can do to help your lawyer or and sometimes if you’re the person who’s going to pay spousal maintenance you go out and pay for a vocational assessment for your spouse because it’s to your best advantage to be able to show the court that that person is going to be able to support themselves in the future that’s true yeah so now spousal mate and it’s also in a longer term marriage you know where you getting if it’s more difficult as if you end up with a non-working spouse who’s in his or her 50s or you know it’s there’s really just no time for that person to be rehabilitated that is a situation where a maintenance ends up being a longer-term commitment late you really kind of can’t avoid correct then it becomes trying to find a way to set that person up for a retirement that will work for them so then you want to take your assets that you have and start looking at how you can set up the asset division in in such a way that that person is going to be you know sort of safe in the long run and I know it feels backwards because you’re the one who’s worked really hard and you’re the one who earned all the money and you feel like that’s my money and I shouldn’t have to share it but once you get the bad news about community property and in a long-term marriage the court wants to make sure that the two of you are leaving your marriage and as as close to an equal position as possible and they want you to be quelt into the future and that’s the harsh part is you know if somebody comes in and says you know I’ve been working 30 or 40 years for XYZ company and I make you know 150 thousand dollars a year and we’re both in our late 50s you know there’s a high likelihood that you’re going to be supporting that you want to make sure that they have a good enough of retirement but you’re gonna end up supporting them for a longer period of time so when you figure out the budget the other thing you want to do if you’re the wage earner is to make sure that the budget for your spouse is a reasonable budget and you can’t come into court and say she can live on $500 a month right right because that’s not gonna work and one little wrinkle I just want to point out is that if you are not married and you’re living together spousal maintenance is not going to be available so sometimes people are in long-term relationships where they haven’t taken the step of getting married if this is different if your same-sex couple who have registered as domestic partners but for couples that are opposite sex or same-sex who are not married then your budget is also an issue but you’re not in terms of child support potentially but it’s not you’re not gonna get something there’s no statutory basis for a maintenance request and as long as we’re on the subject of money that you might have to pay your spouse the question of paying their attorneys fees always comes up correct and if you’re married then part of the statute says that if one person the need and the other person has the ability to pay but the court can order payment of attorneys fees to the other person’s lawyer and I think that is one of the hardest things for someone like you’re working really hard and you’re making really good money and then there’s a lawyer on those other side who’s been completely under attack and you hate them and you got to write them a check that just feels plain and wrong bank’s out but the truth of the matter is the court can’t order that and so you want to kind of be psychologically prepared and you also if that’s likely to happen then you might not want to be as aggressive as you think you want to be because if you start a big fight with the other side and cause them to incur a lot of attorneys fees that’s come back firing you because you end up having to pay them to come after you for what you started so it’s a big bit of a financial mess but which is a really good reason why you need to talk to a lawyer before you file for divorce if possible if you can give yourself six months lead time or something you see it coming down the pike these are all of the issues that need to really be discussed and mapped out and you need to come up with a plan so I think we’re gonna go ahead and take a break you’re listening to the all about divorce show I’m Monica Cary here with Amanda Duvall my law partner we’re family lawyers in Seattle thanks for tuning in
here you been a message way you keep saying you got something for me
something you call love but confessed hey you been thanks for tuning in you’re listening to the all about divorce show I’m Monica Cary and I’m here with Amanda Dube on my law partner and we’re talking about divorce 101 and we were thinking about for this last I’ve been talking about unmarried couples which is a very big deal and it’s more complicated now in the state of Washington because there’s so many different ways to to be aware so let’s just talk about that for a minute so what so you have opposite sex people living together who’ve not ever married yes you have same-sex people living together who’ve never married yes you have same-sex people who are registered domestic partners right and then married people married people what we talked about married people already so let’s just stick with the sort of so the registered domestic partners in Washington are basically treated as though they’re married and actually in June of 2014 if you do have a red if you have registered and it’s a domestic partnership you will be married it’ll automatically become a marriage in Washington married whether you go walk down the aisle or not correct well but let’s talk about one thing that is really important if you think about the fact that if you’re same-sex couple and you’re married and you have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage in the state of Washington the federal government still isn’t exactly fully on board not yet but they are the Defense of Marriage Act is going to probably be reviewed by the Supreme Court in the next four months they expected a decision in June and it’s expected that it’s actually going to be shot down and and then and the Department of Justice is actually not defending DOMA right now but in the meantime the the the takeaway from this is there’s a couple of things that apply to people who are married that don’t apply the same sex marriage is the main one it’s tax it’s the tax ramifications of what goes on because a state governs how you divide your assets but the feds government axes on those assets so the biggest thing to be alert for is you could be obligated to pay spousal maintenance or alimony in the state of Washington to your partner or wife or husband and for opposite sex couples they can deduct that it’s a deductible expense that a person paying for the I’m paying but if your same execs the federal government does recognize that right likewise with transfer of retirement accounts we don’t need to go into all the publication’s like that but if you’re trying to transfer a retirement account you don’t get to do it with the same tax benefits as an opposite-sex married couple would be able to do so there’s some red flags tax wise yes let’s talk about let’s talk about I moved in with my boyfriend 15 years ago I never really wanted to be married I don’t really want to be financially entangled with him because he’s irresponsible we’ve got a couple of kids together and now we’re breaking up so the first question that when you talk to the lawyer the first question the lawyers going to try to try to figure out is whether or not your relationship is a committed intimate relationship and that’s not that’s a term of art that is a term of art and what does that mean so there are different factors that the court will look at to determine whether someone has been in a committed intimate relationship such as whether you’ve pooled resources so that means if you had joint bank accounts if you held real estate together if you worked on the business together if you had joint financial endeavors together and and then they’ll also the court will also look at what your the intent of your relationship was there’s these factors we’re not going to go through every single one but the gist of it is is that did you and are you like pretty much married in all ways except for you don’t have a marriage certificate what’s that expression if it looks like a duck it’s sort of like that’s like a duck yeah but the scary part about this committed intimate relationship thing which is what the court calls it now is it’s very subjective so you could take the same relationship in front of three or four different judges and three or four different judges could actually come to three or four different conclusions about whether or not this is actually meets the statutory criteria so it’s a little bit of a crapshoot if you’ve been living together with someone for a long time there’s all kinds of case law on it there’s cases where people who have lived together and even change their names to each other’s names and put their names in the phone book and lived in the same house and the court says no that’s not a committed intimate relationship and then there’s other ones that seem less long-term than that and the court has said that they are so the the big red flag is don’t assume that just because you’ve been living with someone and you didn’t intend to be financially entangled with them when all is said and done you could end up in a committed intimate relationship and then your assets are before the court pretty much as though well not completely as though but similar to assets and in a married couple right so court doesn’t have to split them 50/50 but everything is pretty much on the table at that point it’s a really case by case I’m really case specific and that yeah so you definitely want to talk to a lawyer that has experience of committed intimate relationships and the other so you got to think about things like this like if you’re if the Court finds you’re in a committed intimate relationship the wages that you earned while you were together will be considered quasi community asset if you bought a house together that could be considered a community asset even if only one person’s name is on the house retirement accounts can be considered quasi community assets and there you run into the same problem where you’re not married and you have to split a retirement account and there’s taxes and penalties and all kinds of problems that come upon you if you’re in the position of having to split that so the big thing to be careful for is don’t assume just because you’re living together that you don’t you’re not financially entangled and debt no hate you could be responsible for half or some portion of your partner’s debt if you’re found to be in a committed relationship because the court will look at all your assets and all of your debt and put it in a pot together so if you’ve got an irresponsible boyfriend or girlfriend who’s out spending up on the credit cards and you’ve been living together for some period of time and you’ve pulled your resources and you’ve pulled yourself out as a committed couple you could end up being responsible part of that person’s credit card debt so if I’m hearing the way that you’re describing it to me it sounds like it can be a really cumbersome process to actually prove that you have a committed intimate relationship but once there’s been a determination that you have won everything is kind of up for grabs except for these two pieces that we mentioned in an earlier segment but one espousal maintenance and the other is attorneys fees because there’s no statutory basis right now right as we’re sitting here today and of course the legislature can always change things anytime coming down the pike so if you are living with someone in a long-term relationship you really it would be smart for you to seek legal advice if you’re thinking about getting out of the relationship anytime soon likewise if you have children together with someone and you’re not married you’re subject to the same parenting statutes its statutes that we that apply to people that are married right what if you are not on the birth certificate Monica well that can be a really big challenge especially if you are same-sex couple and you go out of state for example so it’s really important that both parents have actually asserted their parental rights in paternity cases where let’s say a father is on the birth certificate not married that can also cause a little bit of a challenge in and in terms of a hindrance for a parent to have full access to their children get their medical records and stuff like that if he’s not other person if he even if he is on the birth certificate if it can it can create an extra step if the if he hasn’t taken this step of actually going to establish his paternal rights with the court so even if you’re in the birth certificate you need to go to court and get a document that establishes your paternal rights if you’re headed into if you’re splitting up right yes what if you’re not on the birth certificate and you’re heading into a splitting up Wow for Dad that’s a whole nother show that can be a really big problem I mean we have we have had fathers who’ve had no rights to their kids as a result of that kind of situation it’s really case specific but the point is if you’re headed if you you want to do it quick you don’t want to wait around you don’t want to wait for six years and say well we were kind of on and off and you know I was on the birth certificate and she we kind of figured out our way of you know making sure that the kids saw both of us you want to get you want to take care of that pretty quickly because I have had experiences in court where the court has not granted the father relief saying well what were you doing all this time why didn’t you come here sooner right so the moral of story is if you are thinking well even if you’re happily together and you’re everything’s going perfectly and you and if you listen to this show be sure to get yourself on the birth certificate because you can never tell what’s happening another thing that can weigh we got one more minute the one other thing that can happen is if you’re not on the birth certificate and something happens to you it’ll affect your children’s ability to get Social Security benefits yeah there’s all kinds of bad stuff that can happen out there and on that happy note thanks for tuning in to the all about divorced show I’m Monica Carrie here with Amanda du Bois thanks for tuning in.