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Temporary orders can protect both spouses at the onset of divorce

For many people facing divorce, a common concern is the disruption of financial security during the divorce process. This can be especially frightening and overwhelming when a stay-at-home parent, a financially dependent spouse, or a disabled spouse is facing divorce. And understandably so.

Attorneys with The Levey Law Group often hear comments such as, “My spouse earns much more than I do, how will I support myself and my children on my income alone while I’m going through divorce?” Or, “My spouse has complete control of the household finances.” Another common concern voiced by those facing divorce is, “My spouse is threatening to take away my children if I file for divorce since he/she makes most of the income.”

Rest assured, we offer a variety of solutions to these and other concerns with regard to helping clients maintain their financial stability during the divorce process.

While the divorce is pending and agreements are being worked out, most couples benefit by setting up temporary orders to protect their assets and credit during the divorce process.

 Temporary orders can determine who stays in the family home, make arrangements for the care and support of children, make arrangements for the support of the other spouse if warranted (commonly known as alimony, but referred to as “spousal maintenance” in Washington), and who is financially responsible for the mortgage payment, utilities, car payments, etc. These orders also typically set rules restraining any inappropriate conduct by divorcing spouses.

We have found that spouses often can agree upon reasonable, temporary financial arrangements  that will tide them over until the divorce is final. Either spouse’s attorney can draft temporary orders (which might include a child support order) for the other attorney–and both spouses–to review and sign. Once everyone signs these orders, a court commissioner signs the agreed order which makes the order an official court order that both spouses must abide by.

If the couple have children, a temporary parenting plan also can be drafted.  Agreeing on temporary orders early on offers everyone involved some breathing room. This also alleviates fears, moves the process along, and may prevent court hearings down the road.

A temporary order also can include a provision ordering that one spouse (typically the higher wage-earner) help pay the other spouse’s attorney fees.  On that note, as far as paying attorney fees, The Levey Law Group accepts credit card payments from clients, and also offers an online payment option called LawPay. These options may work for clients who might not have the cash reserves available to finance a divorce. LawPay also may be a good solution for clients wanting to preserve what cash reserves they have to pay for unexpected expenses during the divorce process.

The first step in securing your finances during divorce is to call our office and schedule a consultation. We will answer your questions, and assist you with these and other concerns you may have about the divorce process.

Disclaimer: The information above is provided as a guideline and offers only general information. It is not intended to be a substitute for–nor is it–legal advice or counsel. For more specific details regarding your family law questions, please call The Levey Law Group at 253-272-9459.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Law (commonly known as Collaborative Divorce) is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that was developed in the late 1980s in Minnesota. Since then the practice has spread to all 50 states, as well as to other countries including Canada, England, Ireland, and Australia.

The primary goal of the Collaborative Divorce process is to settle outstanding issues in a non-adversarial manner. This process aims to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social, and emotional consequences of protracted litigation on spouses and their children.

Some of the principles of Collaborative Divorce are:

  1. The spouses seeking a divorce agree not to pursue divorce through litigation, and  instead, agree to resolve their divorce in a non-threatening, respectful, non-adversarial manner.
  2. The spouses and their attorneys agree to act in good faith and focus on needs and interests rather than “positions” in the divorce.
  3. The couple and their respective attorneys work as a team to craft a settlement that both parties feel is fair and equitable to themselves and each other.
  4. The parties and their attorneys may agree to engage other collaborative professionals such as a child specialist, divorce coach, and/or a financial specialist who are trained to help support the parties in their Collaborative Divorce.

For example, having a Divorce Coach on the team may help individuals uncouple their former, dysfunctional relationship by helping them process the emotional part of the break-up and build the skills they need to create a respectful divorce and move on with their lives.

A Child Specialist can help parents develop a parenting plan that is in their children’s best interests. Often, the Child Specialist will meet with the parents’’ children in order to assist with drafting a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interests.

A Financial Specialist can calculate many different financial scenarios to show the divorcing couple what their financial options are.

A Family Specialist performs the same functions as Divorce Coach and a Child Specialist.  A Family Specialist might be appropriate to use in low or moderate conflict cases.

An Eldercare Specialist may be useful when issues with aging, quality care, costs, or short- or long-term care options are concerned.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

A Collaborative Divorce is done in a series of meetings that focus on identifying and prioritizing issues to be discussed and resolved. All participants freely exchange all relevant information, generate and discuss options, and strive to problem-solve that ultimately reaches resolution and a full settlement of the divorce.

Experienced Assistance in Collaborative Divorce

The Levey Law Group is experienced in all forms of ADR and will work with you to determine which method best suits your needs. In Collaborative Divorce, the key to success is the willingness of all parties and their attorneys to commit to the process. The Levey Law Group has met the stringent standards involving additional training in the practice of Collaborative Divorce. To learn if Collaborative Divorce offers an appropriate solution to your family law dispute, please call us.

Changes to tax law may impact your divorce strategy

If you are considering divorce this year, you may want to be aware of a change to the tax law set to take effect next year. This tax law change will impact divorce finances, and spouses who may be eyeing alimony as a component of their divorce settlement.

Federal income tax laws surrounding alimony or spousal maintenance will change in 2019 due to the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” which both houses of Congress passed on Dec. 20, 2017.  While this change won’t take place until 2019, couples may want to consider those changes with regard to their divorce strategy now. It may mean working toward being divorced in 2018, before the law changes. Your strategy depends on the specifics of your case and how changes to that law might affect you.

For the last 75 years, alimony was deductible for the payer, while the recipient paid income tax on it. For all divorces after Dec. 31, 2018, alimony will no longer be deductible for the payer, and the recipient of alimony will no longer be required to pay income tax on alimony.

For example, a man who earns $500,000 a year and is in the top tax bracket may decide to pay his ex-wife $100,000 a year in alimony. After a tax break, that will only cost him about $50,000. The ex-wife would receive the $100,000, but is left with $75,000 after taxes. In 2019, the ex-husband may argue that he can only afford $50,000 a year in alimony. So, the ex-wife would then get that $50,000 which is $25,000 less that she would have under the old law.

Divorce attorneys and financial analysts are still scrambling to better understand the changes to this law that’s been in the tax code since 1942. Many attorneys and mediators fear the potential impact of this change and predict more cases could go to court, divorces may become messier,  more people may be forced to stay married due to the expense, and more couples may rush to get their divorces finalized in 2018 so they can still take advantage of the old law.

One expert believes the new law reduces the bargaining power of vulnerable spouses, mostly women, in achieving financial stability after a divorce. The U.S. Census Bureau shows that 98 percent of the 243,000 individuals who receive alimony or spousal maintenance in 2017 were women.

If you are considering divorce and the prospect of alimony, call our office at 253-272-9459 and make an appointment to discuss what we’ve learned about this new tax law.

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.