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Robert N. Getz

Everett Legal Issues Blog

Communication during divorce necessary, harassment is not

Ending a marriage is a difficult and emotional thing. When going through the divorce process, some individuals in Washington and elsewhere will do things that they think are okay, while their spouses may view those things as harassment. A recent story about communication and harassment during divorce proceedings was recently published. It certainly brings into focus differing views on what is and is not deemed acceptable communication frequency with one's soon-to-be ex. 

According to the article, one man was recently ordered to limit the number of times he texts his ex to one time per day. He was allegedly sending, on average, 14 messages per day. His wife complained that this had been going on for nearly a year. A judge agreed that his communication efforts qualified as harassment. If he fails to stick to the rule of one text per day, this gentleman could find himself behind bars. 

Gray divorce has a strong impact on finances -- not in a good way

The desire to put an end to one's marriage can happen at any age. When a relationship has run its course, it makes sense to walk away even if doing so may cause some hardships for one or both parties. For instance, an article was recently published that talked about the strong impact gray divorce has on a person's finances. While this article should not persuade Washington residents who are considering marital dissolution to stay in bad marriages, it is useful information to know and may even help one when negotiating settlement terms.

According to the article, the United States has seen gray divorces increase substantially since 1990. With this increase has come a rise in the number of adults ages 50 and above experiencing health and financial troubles. According to various studies, divorce mid to late in life can cause a person to experience depression, weight gain and high blood pressure -- which in turn can contribute to other health issues. In terms of financial health, those who divorce at the age of 50 or older lose 50% of their wealth -- which is expected. The real worry is that many of them fail to recover from this loss.

Washington probate: Don't put off what can be done today

Some things in life are easy to keep putting off. They may not seem essential, or they may be things that you want to avoid doing. Estate planning is one of those things that most adults in Washington, and the United States in general, put off until it is too late. When it comes to matters of probate, it is best not to put off what can be done today to protect oneself, one's assets and one's family. Why does having an estate plan matter?

An estate plan serves many purposes. First, it allows you to protect yourself if you ever become incapacitated. How? By naming who you wish to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself and putting your wishes for medical and end-of-life care in writing so there is no mistake about what you want to be done.

Can separate accounts deny you a fair share of assets?

It may have seemed perfectly logical to you when your new spouse suggested that you keep your individual bank accounts. Perhaps you added a joint account for paying bills or you divided the bills between you. Perhaps you never had an account of your own but trusted your spouse to take care of the finances.

Now that your marriage is coming to an end, you may be wondering what your financial future will be like. Your spouse may tell you that the money in his or her account does not belong to you and that you will have to make do with whatever you saved on your own. Fortunately, this may not be the case, but you may need skilled legal assistance to obtain what is legally yours during property division.

Can a credit score be impacted by divorce?

Some changes definitely accompany the end of a marriage. Divorce affects a number of things in each spouse's life, including financially, but can separation or divorce actually affect a person's credit score? Experts say that divorce doesn't directly impact a credit score since marital status is not included on a credit report. What does, however, are the often financial woes that divorce may cause some Washington couples since going from a possible two-income to a one-income household may pose problems.

Spouses who divorce or separate may be saddled with debt they might find difficult to manage -- such as credit card payments or personal lines of credit. Add to that having to pay a mortgage or rent and utility bills and the financial picture could become overwhelming. Missed payments on a regular basis could cause a person's credit score to plummet.

What you can do to prepare for mediation

If you want to keep your divorce out of court and civil, there is a way for you to do that. Couples in Washington are typically required to utilize mediation to settle disputes and come to agreeable dissolution terms. This alternative dispute resolution method can work for most couples who are going through the divorce process. It may work for you if you take the time to prepare for it.

When it comes to divorce, winging it is not the best approach. You cannot achieve a settlement that is fair for you if you do not know what to ask for or what you are entitled to. You may also find the mediation process confusing and stressful if you do not know what to expect.

Not all divorce options are created equal

Washington residents who are getting ready to officially end their marriages may have questions about the best way to go about it. There are several divorce options available, but not all are created equal. Which is best?

There is not one right way to divorce. Every case has unique issues, so what works for one couple may not work for another. When looking up divorce options online, there are four that tend to pop up -- outside of litigation. Those four are:

  • Lawyer-driven
  • Mediation
  • DIY
  • Online filing

Washington probate: Need assistance with TEDRA mediation?

Did you recently lose a loved one? Has the probate process come to a standstill due to disputes about how his or her estate should be distributed? Are you worried that this means drawn-out court proceedings will be in your future? In the state of Washington, it may be possible to avoid litigation entirely by requesting the disputes be resolved through the mediation process.

The Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act, which has been in effect for just over 19 years now, allows you to skip litigation when you have a probate dispute that needs to be resolved. TEDRA can be used to tackle a wide range of disputes, such as questions regarding will validity or existence, claims of undue influence, third-party claims and concerns regarding beneficiary designations -- among various others. If you wish to utilize TEDRA, you have to file an official petition in court, then the real work can begin.

Is your child custody agreement not working anymore?

When you got divorced, you and your former spouse entered into a child custody agreement that you felt would work well for your family. However, like other Washington families in your situation, you realize that plan no longer works.

Perhaps the parenting plan you agreed to worked well for a toddler or young school-age child, but now that he or she is older, you need to change the plan to better accommodate an older child. Maybe you or the other parent changed jobs and working now interferes with parenting time. While these are certainly reasons to review and reconsider your existing agreement, there are other circumstances commonly seen in courtrooms.

When creating a parenting plan, the specifics matter

In the state of Washington when a couple with children divorces, a custody plan has to be created. Shared custody is the arrangement of choice, though, there are cases where sole custody with or without noncustodial parent visitation rights is appropriate. When shared custody or visitation is on the table, it is necessary to come up with a parenting plan for how the family schedule will work. In doing so, remember that the specifics matter.

If shared custody or visitation is in your future, you may feel satisfied with a parenting plan that just states who gets the kids which days of the week or for how long on visitation days. You may think you can work the rest out later. There may be a select few former couples who can make this type of arrangement work. Most, though, will run into problems if they fail to be very specific in how certain issues will be handled.

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