Family lawyers see some of the most emotional cases. Divorce affects every aspect of a family’s life. Hostile in-laws, division of property, custody disputes, infidelity, alimony, moving out, and on and on, we’ve seen it all at Divorce Lawyers for Men. Our network of highly skilled family lawyers is here to fight on behalf of men going through a divorce and other family issues.
What are a Father’s Obligations in Divorce?
When we think of divorce and custody, many automatically think of the mom left alone to raise the children and the father moving out, doing nothing but paying child support. For many divorcing couples, this is not the reality. Many fathers are now becoming much more active in custody and expanded visitation.
The father’s obligations during divorce are far greater than mere financial support. The modern father must deal with the entire package of creating, managing and financing two homes, and building a secure environment for himself and his children.
The Parenting Plan is Critical
Have you already petitioned or been served with divorce papers? Do you know what a Parenting Plan is? In the State of Washington, at your first court hearing a judge will issue temporary orders dictating child custody, alimony, visitation, and division of property. Those orders will stay in place until the divorce is final.
It is extremely important to understand most final divorce decrees tend to wind up adhering closely to the original temporary orders. If, for example, your children remain with your wife after the petition is filed, and she maintains custody of them during the process, she will have established her role as the primary custodian of the children.
It could take six months or more before your divorce is finalized. In Washington, as in many places, that is enough time to establish residency elsewhere. The decisions you make in your Parenting Plan will guide your custodial relationship until your children are 18 years old.
Washington’s Child Support Laws
Child support laws vary from state to state. In Washington child support is set on a state mandated formula based upon the net income of both parents. This gives fathers a level chance when the court determines the amount of support.
Washington has developed a formula known as the Child Support Schedule, which was enacted by the state legislature to ensure that child support orders were fair and held both parents responsible for the welfare of the children —regardless of which parent has primary custody. Even though the support is set based upon the state Schedule, most fathers will need assistance in making certain that the formula is based up the true and actual net incomes of both parents.
Family lawyers in Washington must be well versed in family law in order to properly represent you in your divorce. The Department of Social and Health Services’ website has an online calculator that can estimate the amount of child support that you will likely be ordered to pay based on your income, but a lawyer can factor in your specific circumstances.
Stepparents Can be Ordered to Pay Child Support
In Washington State, it is possible that you will be ordered to pay child support for your stepchildren. You should assume that the support obligation for your stepchildren automatically terminates at the time of filing your petition for divorce or even upon entry of the decree.
You Could End Up Paying Spousal Support (Alimony) for Life
Family courts will also decide which spouse will be required to pay spousal support, if any. Spousal support will be based upon the difference of each spouse’s income after divorce, and upon the duration of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the more likely that spousal support will be ordered. The greater the difference in the post-divorce incomes of the spouses, the greater the likelihood of temporary spousal support.
Unlike child support, unwed fathers are never obligated to pay spousal support to someone to whom they were never legally married. There is no “Common Law” marriage in the state of Washington, and there is no “palimony”.
There is no spousal support schedule. A judge will determine the term of your spousal support obligation and the amount to be paid based on his own judgment.
You’ll Pay Child Support Until Your Children Reach 18
Like many jurisdictions across the country, child support obligations in Washington last until the child reaches the age of 18. Only a divorce modification hearing can change the terms of your child support. Informal agreements between the parents has no effect on the obligation to pay support
Washington family courts will only reduce, or increase, your support obligations upon a motion demonstrating a change in your financial circumstances. You’ll need an experienced family lawyer to file a divorce modification petition on your behalf to get a fair support order.
Child support is seldom extended beyond the age of 18 except for children going to college or having special needs. The court loses jurisdiction over the issue of support if a parenting plan is not modified to include on-going support before the child turns 18.
Let Us Prepare You for Family Court
You have a lot of things to think about and there are a number of steps you need to take now, to protect yourself as you begin divorce proceedings. Let us get you prepared for family court.
We advocate on behalf of husbands and fathers going through a divorce in Washington. We get you the results that you need and want. Contact Divorce Lawyers for Men right now to get started.