Law Office of Robert N. Getz, P.S.
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Robert N. Getz

Everett Legal Issues Blog

Even if you just got married, make sure you are ready for divorce

Who plans for marriage and marital dissolution at the same time? Some Washington residents do, but there should be more. Why? While no one wants to think about their marriage ending in divorce, the truth is a lot of them do. If one is not prepared for it, the financial fallout one might experience could be significant.

According to a recently published article, the average age that women get divorced for the first time is 30. At 30, some people are already established in their careers, and they may have one or more children, a house and a number of other assets to their names. Washington is a community property state, which means marital assets will be split 50/50. The only way that may be avoided is if a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is in place. Even then, the terms of such a contract need to be fair.

Protecting your kids with a trust

Estate planning is not necessarily easy. There are a lot of estate planning products out there, some of which may prove useful to one's situation and others that will not. Many Washington residents have heard about trusts, but many are confused about whether they need one. The truth is, not everyone needs to set up a trust, but for those with children, young or old, it is a great way to ensure their kids get the assets intended for them.

When a person has minor children living at home, there is a need to make sure, in the event of one's death or incapacitation, that those children will be properly cared for. In a will, it is possible to name a guardian to take care of the kids, it is also possible to designate beneficiaries and provide instructions about how assets are to be used to raise the children and then passed on to them when they reach adulthood. The problem with leaving all of this information in just a will is that all assets then become fair game if creditors make claims or legal claims are filed against one's estate. There may also be very little care paid to how the guardians use the funds meant for the kids in their care.

The Jolie-Pitts bring bifurcated divorce into the spotlight

Anything about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's marital dissolution makes headline news these days. Most recently, articles have been released, saying that the couple is filing for a bifurcated divorce. What does that mean, and is it an option for Washington residents?

A bifurcated divorce allows a couple to achieve single status without having a settlement agreement in place. This gives each party the opportunity to move on in their personal lives while taking their time to figure out issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody and child support. There are certain situations where this type of divorce just makes sense.

A parenting plan that works for every member of the family

Washington parents understand how important it is to help their children navigate the transitions and difficult emotions that arise when parents decide to end their marriage. The youngest members of the family often have the most difficult time with a divorce, but there are things you can do to make this an easier process for them. One way you can do this is by crafting a reasonable, sustainable parenting plan.

A parenting plan includes all of the details regarding how you and your spouse will raise the children after divorce. By crafting your plan through discussions, mutual cooperation and negotiations, you can avoid allowing a court to make these important decisions on your behalf. You can customize your plan to suit your individual needs and your goals for your post-divorce life.

Mediation may not be a good fit for you if?

The state of Washington would prefer divorcing couples to work out settlement agreements out of court if at all possible. Couples are generally required to attempt mediation before moving on to litigation. Mediation can prove extremely effective; however, if any of the following are issues in one's case, mediation may not be a good fit.

Issue number one: domestic violence. When one is trying to get away from an abusive spouse, sitting down to attempt to negotiate a divorce agreement is not likely to work. The dominating party will try to control the situation, leaving the abused party with a settlement that is not in his or her best interests. Having legal counsel negotiate or litigate a fair settlement is usually better when this is an issue.

Probate when there is no will

Everyone dies, so it would make sense that everyone would take the time to plan ahead and at least create a will so that their assets and loved ones are protected. Unfortunately, most adults in Washington and across the country do not have wills. When these individuals die, what happens to their estates will be determined in probate court.

How does probate work when someone dies intestate? It starts by someone close to the decedent filing to open a probate case and asking to be the administrator. If everything is in order and there are no contests to this request, a judge may approve it, and the work can begin. If any other individuals come forward and fight that individual's request to be an administrator, it will be up to a judge to decide who will take on this role.

Remember why divorce is an option

In 1979, the rate of divorce was just 5 per every 1,000 Americans. Now, just 40 years later, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.

This jump is not the result of more poorly matched pairs, but a change in the way society considers divorce. Today, divorce is more like a parachute, than a last resort.

From filing to finalization: How long does divorce take?

The decision to dissolve your marriage is one that you probably took some time to reach. Now that you have, you just want to get the divorce over with as soon as possible. How long, from filing to finalization, does the divorce process take in the state of Washington?

How long your divorce takes depends on several factors. Do you have children? Are there questions about how assets should be divided? Do you want to work things out privately, use an alternative dispute resolution method or do you want to go to court? In other words, how long it takes all comes down to the details of your specific case.

Rules to follow when a joint child custody plan is in place

When a couple has children and they choose to divorce, figuring out the best custody plan can be a bit of a challenge. The state of Washington, like most other states, promotes joint child custody when appropriate. Studies show that having access to both parents has long-term benefits for the affected children. Unfortunately, parents sometimes struggle to make this type of custody arrangement work. Here are a few ground rules that they can follow to make joint custody more manageable.

Rule number one: Good communication is necessary. Not all exes are on good speaking terms. When they are sharing time with children, though, they have to find a way to keep each other informed about what is going on with their kids. Those who cannot speak to each other may be better off sending emails or texts. The key is to make sure all communication is just about the children.

Washington probate: Misconceptions about POAs

A power of attorney -- what is it and is it a good thing to have? The truth is, numerous Washington residents can benefit from having POAs, but many people are confused as to what these documents can actually do to help them or where they can get one. A probate law attorney can answer any questions one might have about POAs and help anyone who wants to create one.

There are a lot of misconceptions about POAs out there that make people think they would be better off without one in their legal arsenal. For instance, some people believe that, if they sign this type of legal document, they are giving away their right to make decisions for themselves. That is far from the truth. A POA does not give the assigned personal representative free rein to do what he or she wants with one's assets or to make medical decisions that one would not make for him- or herself. There are limits to the representative's power, and any decisions made have to be in the best interests of the principal.

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