Family Law

Family Law is a large area of law that encompasses legal separations and dissolutions, adoption, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and post-decree modifications.

Below is a short guide to the several elements that make up family law practice here at Moore Law Firm.  In addition to the services offered below, Moore Law Firm can also in a limited representation capacity provide the following services

  • Explain the family court process and legal terms
  • Provide forms for family court cases
  • Check paperwork for completeness before you file
  • Assist in calculating child support
  • Assist in drafting a parenting plan
  • Assist in drafting a summons and complaint

Dissolution of Marriage is what divorce is called in Washington State.  The court will grant a dissolution if you meet all the following:

  • You are married either legally or through common law marriage in another state or country.  Washington does not have common law marriage.
  • You or your spouse are a resident of Washington, meaning you or your spouse live here and intend to remain here, or you are in the military and will be stationed here for at least 90 days after you file and serve the Petition for Dissolution.
  • One spouse in the marriage believes that the marriage is irretrievably broken (the relationship can’t be fixed).
  • You file and serve the Summons and Petition for dissolution properly.

At least 90 days have passed since the Petition for Dissolution was filed and served.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is in essence the same thing as a dissolution. The court will enter orders for all the same issues as it would in a dissolution, including parenting plan, child support, property/debt division. Most people choose a legal separation as opposed to a dissolution for religious reasons.  With a decree of legal separation, your marriage is not dissolved, so neither party can legally remarry unless the decree is first converted to a decree of dissolution.  Also, the Social Security Administration does not recognize a decree of legal separation in figuring out benefits.

If either spouse wants to convert a decree of legal separation to a decree of dissolution, he or she can do so after waiting six months after the decree of legal separation is signed by the judge.  This publication does not discuss all of the differences between legal separation and dissolution; you should consult a lawyer with specific questions about the differences.  If either spouse wants a dissolution instead of separation, the court will grant a dissolution.

Parenting Plans

Parenting Plans are court orders. These orders may be entered by a court at the conclusion of a hearing or trial, or by agreement of the parties. Parenting Plans make provisions for how parents will share the residential schedule of the children, which is still commonly referred to as custody, how parents will make decisions concerning the daily lives of the children and how parents will resolve disputes between one another concerning the children and the parenting plan.

Modification of Parenting Plan

A modification of parenting plan can be brought if there are substantial changes in circumstances and it will serve the best interests of the child.  Washington State parenting plan modifications factors include whether the parties agree to the modification; whether the child has been integrated into the household of the petitioner with the consent of the other parent which is a substantial deviation from the plan; whether the harm the child will experience as a result of the modification is outweighed by the benefit; whether the nonmoving parent has been found in contempt of the residential portion of the existing parenting plan twice in three years; or if the nonmoving parent has been convicted of custodial interference in the first or second degree.

Modification of Child Support

Child support in Washington state may be modified if there is a showing of a substantial change in circumstances and this change was uncontemplated at the time of the court order.  After one year the child support plan may be changed if orders work a severe economic hardship.  After two years the support order may be changed if there is any change in the parents income or the economic tables.

Child Support Calculation

Washington State has a set of guidelines outlined in a table format in the child support worksheets that guides how child support is awarded.

Temporary Orders

Temporary orders are orders that are implemented during the dissolution process and end at when the final orders are implemented.

For more information please check out the Resources Page or for family law go to: