Renton Washington Family Law Criminal Defense and Estate Planning Attorney

Serving Renton, Kent, Seattle, Bellevue, Federal Way, Burien and south King County.

Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com for more information.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Uncontested Divorce in Washington


The phrase "uncontested divorce" does not have any legal significance in Washington, it is merely the description of a dissolution action that is not being contested by the other side. There are basically two ways of achieving it. One is by the agreement of the parties up front. Both parties sign the Petitioner for Dissolution or a Joinder, indicating that they are in agreement (and therefore it is not being contested by the other party). While the parties are waiting for the mandatory 90 day waiting period before the decree can be entered, the responding party could change there mind, and then it can become contested. To avoid this from happening, the parties can enter into a Property Settlement Agreement, binding them to the terms that they have agreed upon.

The second way to achieve an uncontested divorce, is to file a Petition and serve it on the other party. If they fail to file a Response or respond in any way, an Order of Default can be entered against them, and then the Decree itself, according to the terms of the Petition that was filed.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including uncontested divorces and legal separations. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at Renton Divorce Site Map for more information.

Monday, November 30, 2009

How to Stop a Divorce After it is Filed


If a divorce has been filed and the parties reconcile, the divorce action can be dropped by agreement of the parties. The parties need to file a Voluntary Order of Dismissal, to dismiss the case with the court. If the Respondent has appeared in the action in any way (filing a Response, etc.), then the Order must be signed by both parties. If the Respondent has not yet appeared in any manner, then it is only necessary to be filed by the Petitioner (moving party). A wise approach is to make sure that the reconciliation is working before dropping the legal action, especially if there are Temporary Orders in effect.

If the parties are not in agreement to drop the action, the Respondent cannot unilaterally stop the action.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including divorces and legal separations. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at Seattle Divorce Lawyers for more information.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to Serve Spouse if you Cannot Locate Them?


Often times, clients want to start the divorce process, but do not know how to locate them. Traditionally, to fulfill due process requirements, the party to the divorce is personally served with the papers by someone other than a party to the action. Obviously that becomes impossible when you do not know how to locate them. So, what do you do?

There is a statute in Washington (RCW 4.28.100) that allows you to serve a summons by publication in a local newspaper. You must have court approval first to do this. There are several statutory basises for this, the primary one being that the other party "being a resident of this state, has departed therefrom with intent to defraud his creditors, or to avoid the service of a summons, or keeps himself concealed therein with like intent". If your spouse is hiding out to avoid being served, you have the legal basis.

To do this, you must first file an affidavit of due diligence. This is an affidavit stating that you have done all you can to try to find the other party. You must show that you have used "due diligence". This would include things like asking family and friends, checking with employers, calling phone numbers, checking forwarding addresses, and Internet searches. Sometimes this might include hiring a private investigator to do the due diligence search.

If the court approves the process, you can then serve the other party by publishing the summons in a legal newspaper once a week for six consecutive weeks.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including divorces where we cannot locate a spouse. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at Washington Divorce Lawers for more information.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Debt Division in Washington Divorce


As part of an action for the dissolution of a marriage, the Court must determine the division of the parties debts and liabilities. The standard the Court uses is not necessarily and equal division of the debts, but a fair and equitable division, considering all of the circumstances.

The Court will usually order one party to pay a debt, and indemnify and hold the other party harmless from the responsibility of the debt. This order however, is between the two parties only, and does not effect the third party creditor. That means that if the obligated spouse fails to pay the debt, the creditor can still come against the released spouse in collection. If this happens, you have a right to get a judgment against the obligated spouse and collect your costs.

The Court will consider many factors in dividing the debts, including the length of marriage, the economic circumstances of each party, the terms of spousal maintenance, if any, and any other relevant factor.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including divorces with the division of debts. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Parenting Plan vs. Residential Schedule


In most family law actions where children are involved, the court will enter a Parenting Plan for the children. Parenting Plans are detailed court orders addressing both parents rights and responsibilities regarding the children. The three main issues addressed in the Parenting Plan are the residential schedule, decision making and dispute resolution.

In parentage (paternity) cases, the court has the option of entering a Parenting Plan or only a Residential Schedule. A Residential Schedule addresses the residential schedule of the child (when the child is with the mother and when the child is with the father), but does not include decision making or dispute resolution provisions that are in Parenting Plans. If a party requests a Parenting Plan, then the court will enter one rather than just a Residential Schedule.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including parentage actions with Parenting Plans or Residential Schedules. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deposition in Washington Divorces


In contested cases, a great deal of work goes into preparing the case for court. Sometimes, it is necessary to conduct a deposition. A deposition is testimony taken under oath (under penalty of perjury) in advance of a trial or evidentiary hearing before a Judge or Court Commissioner.
Typically, a deposition is taken both to learn information, and to “box” a witness into a story. Deposition testimony may be may be used against that witness in court. Therefore, it is a very useful investigative and preparation tool for attorneys.

A deposition is a formal question and answer session. The subject matter typically relates to the contested issues in the case. In divorces, depositions often focus on the financial affairs of the spouses and any issues relevant to legal custody/physical placement determinations. Often, the person being deposed is required to bring certain documents to the deposition. In those instances, the deponent will almost surely be asked questions about those documents.

The person being deposed is known as a “deponent.” Depositions may involve only the parties (husband and wife). In more complex cases, family and friends may be deposed. If there are any expert witnesses involved in the case, they may be deposed as well. Experts may include appraisers, accountants and psychologists.

Depositions are usually conducted at the office of one of the attorneys in the case. In my office, we hold depositions in conference rooms. A court reporter is present to transcribe all of the questions and answers for the record. Court reporters are hired by the attorney requesting the deposition. More rarely, a deposition is videotaped as well. If a deposition is videotaped, that is usually done by a professional videographer.

The length of an individual deposition varies. Generally, the more complex and acrimonious the case, the longer the deposition will be. There is no Washington law which specifically limits the amount of time a deposition may take. However, a deposition cannot be taken solely for the purpose of harassment or intimidation.

Anyone who is part of a deposition may order copies of the official transcript from the court reporter who transcribed the testimony. A witness is allowed to read and review his or her testimony. However, the contents of the transcript cannot be changed.

If you are subpoenaed to appear at a divorce deposition, you should consult an experienced divorce lawyer to learn about your rights.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including taking the taking of depositions where necessary. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Health Insurance and Divorce in Washington


One of the areas of life that seems straightforward enough when times are good, concerns adequate health care coverage. This is a topic that becomes even more serious when a separation takes place, especially when children are involved. If you and your kids are presently covered by a soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s policy, panic is an understandable reaction. Navigating the health care industry during this time of personal upheaval is not anyone’s idea of an enjoyable experience.

Unless temporary orders are in place, there is nothing to prevent a party from changing insurance benefits, however, that is highly discouraged. For every ones protection, it is usually wise to get temporary order put in place to prevent a party from changing insurance provisions, pending the entry of the final decree.

In the Child Support Order, the court will address the issues of health insurance for the children, and also the payment of uninsured medical expenses.

Heath insurance coverage will terminate for a spouse on the entry of a Decree of Dissolution (this may not be the situation in the case of a Decree of Legal Separation, where insurance may be able to continue because the parties are still married). At that point, it will be up to each spouse to acquire their own health insurance. If cost is an issue, it can be considered as part of spousal maintenance if awarded. If one spouse has health insurance through employment, the federal COBRA act may kick in, allowing the other spouse to continue coverage for a period of time under that plan, provided they pay the out of pocket expense of the employer. If there is no plan available, the spouse will then need to look for plans under their employment, individual plans, or state sponsored plans.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including child support and spousal maintenance to provide for health insurance. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Washington Child Support Arrearages


Child support is a large part of any divorce settlement in which children are involved. Beginning in the 1980’s the government placed a more intense focus on enforcing child support payments and going after those who did not comply with their part of the arrangement.

Arrearages. Overdue child support payments are called arrearages. This can occur because of a failure to maintain work, inability to find work, or just simple refusal to pay. Washington judges have become increasingly strict about enforcing child support orders and collecting payments in arrears. If there is not a valid reason for the failure to pay, the court can find you in contempt. Back child support typically accrues at the statutory interest rate of 12%.

Excusing Child Support Debt. Typically, a judge cannot retroactively modify the amount required by a child support obligation. A parent can seek a modification of future support however. Doing so will help them avoid paying the high amount of support owed at the time if they are unable to do so due to reduction in wages or increase of debt. If the parent does not seek a modification, the parent who receives the child support can file to collect the total arrearage, in which case the court will require that the entire child support debt be paid.

If you are facing difficulty receiving or paying for child support, you need the support and advice of a family attorney who cares about the well being of your family. Child support debt is an issue that needs immediate attention so that your children continue to be cared for and you do not face mounting debt.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including child support modification. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Establishing Paternity: DNA Tests


Paternity tests are highly accurate methods of biological testing that are used to determine whether or not a particular man is the father of a particular child (action for Parentage). They are often necessary if the alleged father wishes to challenge the mother on the paternity of the child in question, or if there is uncertainty on the part of either parent as to who the father is. Each party must submit to genetic tests at the request of either party.

An Explanation of Genetic Material. One of the types of paternity tests available is a DNA test. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), is the genetic material present in every cell of the human body. Half of a child’s genetic material is from his or her biological mother and half from the biological father. The process of DNA testing compares the genetic characteristics of the child to those of the mother. The characteristics that cannot be found in the mother have to have been inherited from the father.

DNA Paternity Testing. The most accurate form of paternity testing possible is DNA testing. An alleged father can be completely ruled out if DNA patterns between the child and the alleged father do not match on two or more DNA probes. However, if the DNA patterns between mother, child, and the alleged father match on every DNA the likelihood of paternity is 99.9 percent. The test can be conducted from a blood sample or a Buccal strap in which a swab is rubbed against the inside of the subject’s cheek.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including parentage (paternity). We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pretrial Conference In King County Divorce


In King County Washington, the clerks monitors cases with a Case Schedule to make sure the parties and their lawyers are ready for trial. The trial judge will typically schedule a Pretrial Conference about a month before the scheduled trial date. The purpose of this conference is to inform the court of the issues and to make sure everyone is ready for trial on the trial date.

If there are attorneys involved, the attorneys will handle the pretrial conference (typically by telephone) and the client's do not need to appear. If you do not have an attorney, you will need to appear in court.

The judge will ask questions about the case, and then write out an Order From Pretrial Conference. The judge will indicate the estimate of the number of days the trial will last and the issues that will be addressed (parenting plan, child support, maintenance, property, etc.). The court will indicate if anyone has any conflicts with the scheduled trial date, whether the parents have attended the "What About the Children" seminar, whether the parties have attended alternative dispute resolution, and whether there is a parenting evaluation. The court will then order dates by which the parties exchange exhibit and witness lists, create joint statement of evidence, trial binders, pretrial motions, briefs, and proposed final documents. The court can then address any special arrangements that need to be made.

The Pretrial Conference helps the parties, attorneys and judge to be ready so that the trial can go as smoothly as possible.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. When settlement is not possible, we also take our cases to trial. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Discovery in Washington Divorces


On the procedural level, a divorce entails a number of distinct phases over a period of time. One of the most important phases is known as discovery.

At its core, discovery is about revealing details relevant to a particular case. It involves the legal representatives of either party seeking information from the other side, under the penalty of perjury if these facts are withheld or falsified.

Common Discovery Methods

Attorneys go about obtaining evidence for a case (“conducting discovery”) in a number of distinct ways. Some of the more common approaches include:
  • Interrogatories - A list of broad questions about the case, such as information regarding employment, assets, debts, care of children, living expenses, and other issues of the marriage. This is a procedure requiring the other party to answer the questions in writing.

  • Request for Production of Documents - Apart from the information found in answers to interrogatories, divorce cases are designed to encompass a broad range of potential pieces of evidence, including deeds, bank statements, tax returns, bills, pay stubs, receipts, etc. This is a procedure to have the other side provide the requested documents that are in their possession and control.

  • Request for Admissions - Basically a safety-net designed to ensure accuracy of information, a request for admissions seeks to have the other side admit or deny a specific allegation.

  • Depositions - Probably the most direct and immediate of discovery procedures, a deposition works much like a testimony on the stand, with the legal counsel of one party putting questions to a witness under oath.

  • Subpoena – This is a procedure demanding that a third party provide relevant documents in their possession. An example would be bank statements or canceled checks from a bank, or income or pension information from an employer.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including Declaration of Invalidity (annulment). We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Difference Between Divorce and Annulment


There are two legal ways to end a marriage in the State of Washington. The first way, the Dissolution of Marriage (frequently called divorce), is the ending of a valid marriage through a process that restores the parties' single status and gives them the ability to remarry. The second way, Declaration of Invalidity (frequently called an annulment), completely erases the marriage as if it never existed at all.

While a divorce recognizes that a marriage did exist, a Declaration of Invalidity (annulment)legally declares that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid. Annulments, like divorces, can be initiated by either the husband or the wife. The party that initiates the annulment must be able to prove whatever grounds he or she alleges. Divorce, however, does not require proof of whatever grounds for the divorce are alleged. Such things as "irreconcilable differences" do not require that the parties show exactly what the differences that can't be resolved are.

For a Declaration of Invalidity (annulments), the following are the legal basis under RCW 26.09.040 for declaring that the marriage is invalid and should be erased:
  • the age of one or both parties

  • lack of parental or court approval

  • a prior undissolved marriage of one or both parties

  • reasons of consanguinity (closely related by blood)

  • a party lacked the capacity to consent to marriage because of mental incapacity, influence of alcohol or other incapacitating substance

  • a party was induced into entering into marriage by force, or duress, or by fraud involving the essentials of marriage

  • Additionally, the court must find that the parties have not ratified the marriage by voluntarily cohabiting after attaining the age of consent, or obtaining the capacity to consent, or after cessation of the force or duress or discovery of the fraud
Just like in a divorce, once that is determined that the marriage is invalid, other related issues must be resolved. The assets and debts must be divided, custody of any children must be determined, child support and spousal maintenance, restraining orders, attorney fees, and other appropriate issues.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including Declaration of Invalidity (annulment). We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pet Custody Disputes in Washington


In many divorce or legal separation settlements, the most complicated matters to resolve are child custody arrangements and the division of the couple's assets. In recent years, however, more and more couples have found themselves caught in a legal battle somewhere between the two: custody disputes over pets. Under Washington law, a pet is considered just another piece of property, but many pet owners see their favorite animals as much more than that.

Contrary to popular belief, many animals do not see their human caregivers as interchangeable sources of food and shelter. Dogs, cats, and other animals do have different relationships with different people, including varying levels of closeness and willingness to obey. In other words, it does matter which person a pet ends up living with after a separation. Unfortunately, the law has not been updated to reflect this reality. Many family law judges are unfamiliar with animal behavioral issues, and may not take pet custody disputes seriously. As a result, most divorcing couples with pets are left to settle the matter between themselves.

Some couples agree on a joint custody arrangement; perhaps the pet will alternate homes each week or so, or perhaps one owner will have custody on the weekends. Unfortunately, many pets find this amount of moving around very stressful. The matter can be further complicated if one owner moves out of state or suddenly refuses to let the former spouse visit the pet.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including property division and pets. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Motion to Adjust Child Support in Washington


Separate and distinct from a Petition to Modify an Order of Child Support, either party may file a Motion to Adjust Child Support. The substantive and procedural laws are different in a Motion to Adjust.

In a Motion to Adjust Child Support, the court is limited in what it can do. It cannot modify any and all provisions in the Order of Child Support. Primarily, all the court can do is adjust the amount of the transfer payment. The court does not have the jurisdiction to change other provisions like who gets the tax exemptions. This would take a Petition to Modify the Order of Child Support.

Under Statute, RCW 26.09.170, a person can adjust child support under 3 primary scenarios. 1) once every 24 months if there has been a change in income of one of the parties; 2) once every 24 months if there has been a change in the Child Support Schedules (there will be one in Washington effective October 1, 2009); 3) once every 12 months and a child has changed age categories (from under age 12 to over age 12); and 4) once every 12 months and the existing Order of Child Support specifically provides for an adjustment to happen more frequently than every 24 months. If one of these scenarios are in effect, you can file a Motion to Adjust Child Support.

Procedurally there is a great difference between a Petition and a Motion. In a Petition to Modify, you are given a trial date, which in King County usually takes place on affidavit only (no oral testimony) and is scheduled about 4 months later. A Motion can take place much quicker, it can be scheduled in about 2 weeks and be resolved at that point. It takes place on the Family Court Services daily calendar.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the child support adjustment. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Child Support Modification Procedure in Washington


The Order of Child Support can be modified in Washington if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the parents or the child. In this blog we will discuss the procedure involved to do this.

Filing for Modification of Child Support requires filling out the mandatory forms, including Summons, Petition for Modification, Child Support Worksheets, and financial verification (6 months wage stubs, 2 years tax returns, 6 months bank statements). You then serve copies on the other parent, and file them with the Court who will schedule a hearing. If the other parent is receiving welfare benefits, the County Prosecuting Attorney must be served as well.

In King County, a trial is scheduled in about 4 months after filing. It is a trial by affidavit, meaning that there is usually no oral testimony, it is all submitted in writing (declarations) in advance, with brief oral argument by the attorneys at the trial. Typically, both parties submit their declarations to the court and to each other 2 weeks before the trial date. Each party may then submit responding declarations 1 week before the trial.

Because the court accelerates the trail schedule in support only modifications, the court discourages temporary motions to adjust child support pending the trial. The court however has the ability to modify child support retroactive to the date of filing the action.

If both parties agree and the Order meets the State mandatory Child Support Schedules, they can get the Order of Child Support approved by a judge without the need of a formal hearing.

In my next post, I will discuss the difference between a Petition to Modify Child Support and a Motion to Adjust Child Support.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the child support modification. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Child Support Modification in Washington


The Order of Child Support can be adjusted through a child support modification procedure if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the parents or the child. Some examples include when one or both parents' income has substantially increased or decreased; if the child now spends a greater amount of time with one or the other parent; or if the child has special needs, including special schooling or medical care.

If your Order of Child Support is registered with the State Division of Child Support and at least three years have passed since it was entered, the State will assist you in getting child support modified administratively at no charge to you. However, this process takes much longer than doing it on your own.

With the new changes in the Washington State Child Support Schedule effective October 1, 2009, there will probably be an increase in the number of Petitions for Modification of Child Support. These statutory changes could significantly change the amount of child support paid or received. If you think your child support could change, you should consult with an attorney to see what child support may be.

In the next post, I will discuss the procedure involved in a Petition to Modify Child Support.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the child support modification. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Alcoholism and Child Custody in Washington Divorce


Alcoholism is a larger problem in society than most would guess. While some people consider themselves merely "social drinkers," they might in fact be alcoholics that rely on alcohol to have a good time. Alcoholism is a disease, like any addiction. While it is not nearly as serious an allegation in a child custody battle as drug abuse is, it is still serious.

When a parent is said to be an alcoholic and the other spouse has evidence to back it up, that becomes an issue for the court in setting up the Parenting Plan (custody). There is statutory basis for the court limiting a parents involvement in parenting when alcoholism is an issue.

The issue is not just that the parent consumes alcohol, but that their alcohol use affects their ability to parent. The biggest problem with alcoholism is that while a parent is drunk or out drinking, that parent is not paying attention to the children and seeing to their needs. In addition, alcohol compromises a person's judgment and may lead that parent to do some pretty risky things with the kids in the car.

When the parent's judgment is compromised due to alcohol, the risks for the children go up.
Courts are supposed to award the custody of the children to the parent that will be able to care for them best and keep them safe. Alcoholism impedes the ability of a parent to do this and so the children are at risk.

When alcoholism is an issue, the court will frequently order an alcohol evaluation, and sometimes require the parent to follow the recommendations (treatment). The court can condition visitation on the parent following through on these conditions. Sometimes the court will include a restraining order, that the parent not drink or be under the influence of alcohol during the visits. Sometimes the court will allow a parent to demand a urinalysis test if they suspect the other parent being under the influence during a visit. The court can also require the visit to be supervised if the parent cannot control their drinking.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the custody and parenting plans in a divorce. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Washington No Fault Divorce


In Washington, the legal basis for the dissolution of a marriage is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. It only takes one party to allege this. Unless the court were to find that the petitioner was induced to file by by fraud or coercion, the court must grant the petition. There is nothing else the respondent can do to prevent the dissolution of the marriage.

Other "ground" or behaviors are not a basis for divorce, and therefore not admissible for that purpose. The court will not allow testimony regarding unfaithfulness, affairs or other fault.

Some "fault" may be admissible for other purposes. If it is relevant to the issue of parenting, it could be admissible. Domestic violence is admissible for the purpose of showing the need for restraining orders. When it comes to the issue of property division, the statute specifically states that the division must be made without regard to misconduct. An exception to this can be if a party dissipates community assets.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the dissolution of marriage and the division of assets. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dividing Non-Qualified Retirment Benefits in Washington Divorce


Pension and other retirement benefits are generally considered property subject to distribution by the Court in a dissolution action. A qualified pension plan (under the ERISA tax code) can be divided in two primary methods. The first is to determine it's value and awarding it to one spouse. The second is to divide the benefit between the spouses, typically using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Today, we will look at dividing non-qualified plans.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's) are not qualified so a QDRO is not necessary. They can be awarded or divided in the Divorce Decree with simple language specifying who gets it.

Washington State pensions, including Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS), Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), School Employees' Retirement System (SERS), Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System (LEOFF), Washington State Patrol Retirement System (WSPRS), Judicial Retirement System (JRS), and Judges' Retirement Fund (JRF), all require special statutory treatment for division, rather than a QDRO. Specific information on these pensions can be found at the following web page http://drs.wa.gov/member.

A family law attorney can advise you on how retirement benefits can fit into a fair division of assets, and help in getting them valued. QDRO's need to be approved by both the court and the pension administrator. Be sure to have your QDRO reviewed by an attorney.


The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the division of assets (like a pension) in a divorce. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dividing a Washington Pension Using a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order)


Pension and other retirement benefits are generally considered property subject to distribution by the Court in a dissolution action. A pension plan can be divided in two primary methods. The first is to determine it's value and awarding it to one spouse. The second is to divide the benefit between the spouses, typically using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Today, we will look at the second option.

The second method in awarding a pension is to use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to divide the benefit now, so that both spouses will share the benefit at retirement age. The QDRO can award either a specified monthly dollar amount to be paid at retirement, or a percentage of the amount accrued or to be paid. This can be done with all qualified retirement plans, such as the Boeing Employee Pension or Boeing 401(k) (VIP), or retirement accounts of other businesses.

The QDRO must be signed by the Court, and a certified copy sent to the pension administrator. They must then decide if it is truly a "qualified" order. If not, they will typically send a letter explaining the problems, and it must be redrafted to meet the requirements of thier plan or the IRS. If it is approved, they will then process it in a timely fashion.

The same can be done with a 401(k) plan, where the QDRO can award a spouse an interest in the retirement benefit in a divorce without incurring any penalty and without any tax, as long as it is rolled over into another tax deferred vehicle (IRA).

A family law attorney can advise you on how retirement benefits can fit into a fair division of assets, and help in getting them valued. QDRO's need to be approved by both the court and the pension administrator. Be sure to have your QDRO reviewed by an attorney.
In my next entry, I will discuss the division of retirement benefits that are not "qualified" under the IRS regulations.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the division of assets (like a pension) in a divorce. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Valuing a Washington Pension in Divorce Using an Actuary


Pension and other retirement benefits are generally considered property subject to distribution by the Court in a dissolution action. A pension plan can be divided in two primary methods. The first is to determine it's value and awarding it to one spouse. The second is to divide the benefit between the spouses, typically using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Today, we will look at the first option.

The first method in awarding a pension, is to find the present value of the future stream of benefits, and then giving the benefit in its entirety to the spouse. The pension fund will typically give us the amount of the monthly benefit at retirement (usually age 65), but will not tell us what that is worth in today's dollars. To value the pension, we send the information (payment amount, date of birth, expected date of retirement, date of employment, date of marriage, and pension information) to an actuary, who uses life expectancy tables and projected interest rates to determine its present value in today's dollars. This benefit can then be awarded in its entirety to one spouse. In this case, to have a fair and equitable division of assets, the other spouse would probably be awarded other assets to offset this value (possibly their own pension, the house, or something else).

In the next entry, I will address the second method, of actually dividing the pension between the two spouses, so they both receive payments at the time of retirement.

A family law attorney can advise you on how retirement benefits can fit into a fair division of assets, and help in getting them valued. QDRO's need to be approved by both the court and the pension administrator. Be sure to have your QDRO reviewed by an attorney.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the division of assets (like a pension) in a divorce. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Division of Pension Plans in Washington Divorce


Pension and other retirement benefits are generally considered property subject to distribution by the Court in a dissolution action, whether or not the benefits are vested. The law considers these benefits to represent deferred compensation. This means they were accrued during the marriage and belong to the marital community, rather than being earned after divorce (at retirement) and belonging to the spouse whose employment generated them.

There are many types retirement benefits to consider in a property division, including IRA's, pension plans, 401K's, government plans, union plans, stock options, sick leave, vacation time and deferred compensations.

A family law attorney can advise you on how retirement benefits can fit into a fair division of assets, help in getting them valued, and determine the best way to divide them.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the division of assets in a divorce. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Procedure to get Temporary Orders in King County


Hearings for family law temporary motions take place in the family law court room, in either the King County Courthouse in Seattle or the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. All of the evidence for the hearing is contained in the written declarations submitted to the court in advance. The hearings take place with oral arguments only (no oral testimony).

To obtain a Temporary Order in King County, a minimum of fourteen (14) days notice must be given the other party and the Court (including service of all the necessary documents), unless an emergency exists. If you have been served with a Motion for Temporary Orders by the other side, your written response and other documentation you want the Court to consider must be submitted by noon, four (4) court days prior to the hearing. The party bringing the motion is then entitled to file a brief reply, to be filed by noon, two (2) court days before the hearing.

The process to start the motion is either with a Motion and Note for Motion Docket, or an Order to Show Cause. Typically you use an Order to Show Cause when you are starting a process and the other party has not yet formally appeared, you need immediate restraining orders put into place pending the hearing, or it is a Motion for Contempt. In most other cases, a simple Motion and Note for Motion Docket is appropriate.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including temporary motions. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Washington Temporary Divorce Orders


In King County, the trial date for a dissolution is set for approximately eleven months from the time of filing. Typically, the parties cannot wait 11 months to get things resolved, there needs to be some "ground rules" set during this time. While awaiting the trial, either party may move the Court for Temporary Orders.

The temporary orders can include a Temporary Parenting Plan (defining both parents rights and responsibilities toward the children), temporary child support, temporary spousal maintenance, and temporary restraining orders. The Orders can include restraints against disposing of any property except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life; molesting or disturbing the peace of the other party or of any child; temporary use and occupancy of the family home; going onto the grounds of or entering the home, workplace, or school of the other party or the day care or school of any child; temporary use of automobiles; or removing a child from the jurisdiction of the Court.

A temporary order, temporary restraining order, or preliminary injunction does not prejudice the rights of a party or any child at the time of trial. Temporary orders may be revoked or modified; and they terminate when the final Decree is entered.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including temporary motions. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Interviewing a Washington Divorce Lawyer


Many people hire the first lawyer they meet. Others interview several lawyers before deciding which one to hire. How many you interview may depend on how much time you have, the urgency of your situation, how many lawyers there are to choose from and how quickly you find one you like.

Tell the lawyer about your situation. Take a list of your assets and debts and sources of income with you. A copy of the last several years' tax returns can also help speed the discussion and make it more meaningful. A narrative or outline of the important events in your relationship with your spouse can also be helpful.

Make a list of things you want to discuss and take it with you to the interview. Ask questions. Then ask more questions. Listen carefully to the answers and write them down. Review the answers later and think about them. Listen not only to the information the lawyer gives you, but also to the way it is presented. Think about how the lawyer related to you. While a lawyer may be appropriately optimistic about your case, do not hire a lawyer simply because that lawyer predicts a better outcome than another lawyer.

Here are some questions you might ask when interviewing a divorce lawyer:

• What is likely to happen to me?
• How much property will I get?
• How much support will I get?
• How much support will I have to pay?
• Do I have a choice of courts?
• Does it make a difference?
• Do you have associates or paralegals?
• How do you decide who does what work on my case?
• Are you reachable by phone?
• If I call and you aren't available, how is my call handled?
• How much do you charge for travel time, secretarial time, photocopies, postage, faxes, long distance calls, mobile phone calls, supplies, computer use or anything else other than your time?
• What expenses do you pay from the money I pay you and what do I have to pay directly?
• Under what circumstances would you refund all or part of my retainer fee?
• Do you have any personal feelings about the positions you would have to take if you represented me?
• How often are you out of the office in court, at conventions, on vacation, and for other things?
• How do you cover my case at those times?
• How much do you know about the judge who will decide my case if it goes to trial?
• Do you think we can work together?
• Will you be available at the times that are convenient for me?

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Friday, July 24, 2009

How to Select a Washington Divorce Lawyer

When asking for names of lawyers, when interviewing lawyers, and when deciding which lawyer to hire, different things are important to different people. For example, a person of limited means may be most concerned about cost. Another person may require experience with a certain type of family law problem. Decide what is important to you and select accordingly.

Here are some criteria to consider in choosing an attorney:

  • Cost. While local market conditions such as supply, demand and competition determine in large part what lawyers charge, there can be a significant variation in fees. Generally, better known, better established lawyers charge more. The quality of representation you get may or may not be worth the higher price they charge. There are often highly skilled and experienced lawyers available who charge less because they are not yet as well known and are therefore not in such demand. A lawyer in this category can be an excellent value.Even if cost is very important to you, it is false economy to reject a referral because you are told that a lawyer charges for a first consultation. Although some lawyers may give useful information and advice in a free consultation, there is a chance that a lawyer who is not charging for the time will treat the meeting more as a sales session and not feel obligated to deal with substantive issues. Even if your purpose is to interview the lawyer in order to help you decide whom to hire, you will not learn enough about the lawyer unless you talk about your case and hear what the lawyer really thinks about it.
  • Gender, age, race, religion, national origin. Competent lawyers come in all sizes, shapes, genders, colors, religions and ages. None of these factors has anything to do with the lawyer's ability. Irrespective of the lawyer's ability, your comfort level is important if the relationship is to work. If you are inclined to hire a lawyer that you feel a common background with, there is no reason why you shouldn't. Just be sure you are not being swayed by stereotypes.
  • Credentials. There are objective factors that may help you evaluate the lawyer's professional competence and appropriateness for your case. Although mere membership in professional organizations may not mean a lot, active participation in the work of the organization is one mark of a lawyer's involvement in the specialty. Publishing articles, books and treatises on family law and teaching other lawyers are even better indicators of experience, competence and reputation. The length of time in practice, and the amount of family law experience are also important criteria.
  • Personal compatibility. You must feel comfortable with the lawyer you hire if you are to work effectively together. If you are not comfortable with a lawyer you interview, you should probably trust your instinct and not hire that person, even if you cannot isolate the cause of your discomfort. The relationship between lawyer and client in a family law matter is especially important. You will be telling the lawyer intimate facts of your life and the lawyer may have to give you advice and information that you may not like. Be sure the lawyer is one to whom you can talk and listen.
  • Location. The location of the lawyer's office may or may not be important, depending on the circumstances. Here are some things to consider.It is a great benefit to be able to go conveniently to your lawyer's office to meet and work on your case. And if the lawyer's office is far from the courthouse, you may have to pay for the lawyer's travel time. On the other hand, lawyers sometimes represent clients who have never seen the lawyer's office, especially in large, sparsely populated areas where it is common for lawyers to travel long distances to court, to depositions, and to meetings.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Find a Washington Family Law Lawyer


Selecting a lawyer to represent you in your divorce is more than just picking a name; it means establishing a close and sensitive relationship that will continue for months and perhaps years. It is important to find and hire the person who is right for you and your case.

The first difficult issue in the process is getting the names of qualified lawyers from which to pick from. The following is a suggestion of sources to find an attorney for you.
  • From other professionals. Lawyers, accountants, psychotherapists, members of the clergy and other professionals meet and work with divorce lawyers in the course of their work and are often a good source of referrals. Ask them for the names of family law specialists with good credentials and reputations and whose qualifications are most appropriate to your case. Lawyers, in particular, are aware of the reputations of other lawyers, even those outside their specialty, so a lawyer you already know and trust can be an exceptionally good referral source. If you need a divorce lawyer outside your geographical area, divorce lawyers in your area often know who the best people are in other regions.
  • From organizations. Your state bar may have a process for identifying lawers whose practice emphasises family law, and may give you names and referrals. While having an emphasis is no absolute assurance of quality, it usually requires a certain proven level of experience, study, and interest in the field. Washington does not certified specialists in any area of the law. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is an organization with a rigorous screening procedure which admits only qualified specialists. The American Bar Association and most local bar associations have family law sections. Although any lawyer can join these sections with no screening or testing, lawyers who belong may have a higher level of interest and involvement in the field of family law than those who don't.
  • Referrals from other persons. You may have friends or relatives who have gone through a divorce. They are a good source of information about lawyers, with two qualifications. Every client and every case is different, so it is difficult to evaluate the performance of a lawyer in someone else's case. Also, the lawyer-client relationship is highly personal. So while the impressions of a former client about a lawyer are useful, you should meet the lawyer and make your own judgment.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

7 Tips if You are Considering Divorce


If you are considering a divorce or legal separation, the following are some tips to consider before you take any legal steps.
  1. Copy Important Records: Make copies of important records such as tax returns with all schedules (at least three tax years), pay stubs, bank records (account statements and checking account registers), investment records, title/deeds for cars, homes, etc., and debt information such as credit card statements.

  2. Consider Your Immediate Financial Needs: It may be weeks or months before you begin to get financial assistance from your spouse. Consider how you will meet your financial needs in the interim. Make a budget and identify ways to reduce your immediate needs. Know what your debt payments are. Identify sources of emergency cash such as bank accounts, credit card cash/PLC advances, loans from family members, and loans against other assets such as IRA’s and 401(k) accounts. Be aware of any tax consequences or penalties that might be incurred if you withdraw retirement funds.

  3. Explore Your Alternatives: Will you be leaving your home or will your spouse be leaving? Who will the children live with? How will you afford new housing, including utility and rental deposits and moving costs? Do you have friends or family members with whom you can stay? Do you have suitable accommodations for overnights visits with your children?

  4. Protect Your Credit: In order to avoid liability for debts your spouse might incur without your knowledge, notify all of your creditors that you want the accounts canceled because you are separating from your spouse. You will no longer be responsible for your spouse’s future charges, however, you will still be responsible for past charges. The notification should be in writing (keep a copy).

  5. Consider What’s Best for Your Children: If you have children, think about their needs during this difficult period. Contact divorce support resources if necessary (these can be found through the child’s school, pediatrician, or community resources guides). Try to limit the amount of conflict the children are exposed to and do not involve them in the legal proceedings. If at all possible, let the children adjust to the separation before making changes to the child’s home, school, or other major support systems.

  6. Obtain Appropriate Legal Assistance: If you can afford a private attorney, plan how you will pay a fee retainer. Obtain recommendations from friends, professionals such as counselors, or community resource guides. Ask questions about the attorney’s hourly rate and fee retainer. Find out how long the attorney has been practicing family law, and what percentage of their practice is in family law. If you cannot afford to retain an attorney, identify your other options such as a volunteer ("pro bono") attorney, low-income legal resources, free attorney consultations, "do-it-yourself" seminars, software and books. You might also explore "unbundled legal services": having an attorney assist you with only portions of the legal proceedings (such as preparing documents that you will file on your own behalf) which will reduce your legal expenses.

  7. Educate Yourself and Your Children: Read books about the divorce process, talk to family members and friends, and know about the effects of divorce on children. Use age-appropriate explanations to talk with your children about what the marital separation will mean to their lives and what changes they can expect. Attend individual counseling or group sessions, if necessary.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Communication Between Lawyer and Client


A. The Importance Of Communication
The lawyer-client relationship works best when the two of you are able to communicate -- not only about the facts of your case, but about your working relationship. Information should flow both ways between you and your lawyer. Just as your lawyer should satisfy your need for information, you should provide your lawyer with all information that your lawyer requests. Advice based on incorrect or incomplete facts may be worse than no advice at all. If you do not understand the advice you are given, or find it hard to accept, tell your lawyer. If, for example, you do not understand why your lawyer is recommending that you accept or reject a particular settlement proposal, you should ask why the recommendation is being made. Only by giving your lawyer the opportunity to explain things will you know whether there is a real problem to be addressed.

B. Financial Information
Your lawyer will ask you for financial information, and perhaps ask you to fill out a questionnaire. Financial information includes income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Your lawyer may also want to see papers such as income tax returns, paycheck stubs, statements of savings and investments, employee benefit statements, and papers regarding your debts. Your cooperation in getting this information to your lawyer, although time consuming, is essential to the proper preparation of your case.

C. Marital History
Your lawyer may also ask you to prepare a history of your marriage which includes personal as well as financial information. Where the custody of your children is in dispute, more than financial information will certainly be necessary. In addition to a history, some lawyers ask their clients to keep a diary of events related to the divorce. Complete candor, including any negative facts about yourself, is crucial.

D. Keeping in Touch
Your lawyer will be communicating with you. There may be periods of inactivity, but when something important happens, your lawyer will want to let you know. If you move, or are planning to be away, be sure your lawyer knows where you are.

E. Calling Your Lawyer and Returning Calls
Lawyers work on more than one case at a time and the practice of matrimonial law requires lawyers to spend time in court, at depositions, in conference, and on the telephone. So you should not expect your lawyer always to be available immediately when you call. You should, however, expect that your lawyer, or a staff member, will respond to your telephone calls promptly. If an emergency arises, tell the person who answers the telephone that it is an emergency and explain the situation. No matter how upset you are, be courteous to your lawyer's staff. Likewise, if your lawyer calls and leaves a message for you to call back, you should do so as soon as possible. Your lawyer will understand that you also have commitments that may make you temporarily unavailable. Your lawyer will appreciate your calling during regular business hours. But most lawyers will make every effort to be available when needed for a real emergency.

F. Being Available
You and your lawyer will have a hard time communicating if you are not available to each other. Before hiring any lawyer you should consider whether your schedules are compatible. If you can't meet with your lawyer during normal business hours, make that clear before you hire the lawyer. Remember that your lawyer is a human being, entitled to free time. If you expect your lawyer to be available evenings or weekends, say so in advance so that the lawyer can decide whether to take your case under those conditions.

G. Correspondence
When you receive correspondence from your lawyer, read it and respond. Delay in responding to correspondence could be harmful to your case.

H. Your Involvement In Other Legal Proceedings
If at any time during your divorce, you are involved with any other legal proceeding, such as criminal, traffic, juvenile, probate, tax, bankruptcy or a civil lawsuit, let your lawyer know as soon as possible. It may affect your divorce.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What You CANNOT Expect From Your Lawyer



Whenever a relationship is established, its participants form expectations of each other. The lawyer-client relationship is no different. And as in any other relationship, lawyers and clients have rules and boundaries which govern those expectations. Some expectations are appropriate; others are not. In the last post, I discussed an overview of what you can expect of your lawyer. Today I will address what you cannot expect from your lawyer.


  • Your lawyer will not handle matters that are beyond the scope of your agreement. The lawyer you have hired to represent you in your divorce will not usually represent you in other matters unrelated to your divorce, unless the two of you specifically agree otherwise. For example, if you need legal assistance in selling your home, preparing your will, or defending against a civil lawsuit, it will be necessary to make specific arrangements with your lawyer, or to hire another lawyer, possibly in the same firm, with the appropriate specialization or expertise.
  • Your lawyer cannot guarantee results. The eventual outcome of your divorce depends on the facts, the law, how the judge views your case, and other factors. Every case is different. Although your lawyer may express an opinion on possible or probable outcomes, nobody can be sure of the result until it happens.
  • Your lawyer cannot do anything unethical or illegal. Lawyers work under very strict legal and ethical codes and take them very seriously. If you ask your lawyer to do anything unethical or illegal, your lawyer will refuse. If you insist, your lawyer will withdraw from your case. Examples of forbidden conduct are: encouraging or permitting perjury, hiding assets or income, and in any manner deceiving the court or the other side.
  • Your lawyer may be reluctant to act against the best interests of your children. A lawyer's first duty is to look out for the client's best interest. Yet divorce lawyers are also concerned about the welfare of the children and some ethical guidelines encourage lawyers to keep the children's interest in mind.
  • Lawyers and Clients Should Maintain an Appropriate Professional Relationship. Sometimes friendships and even romances develop between lawyers and clients. Many lawyers have close personal friendships with former clients. But because of the intense emotional nature of a divorce, it is usually best for lawyers and clients to defer establishing a social relationship until after the case is over. Romantic relationships are not advisable as they interfere with a lawyer's objectivity and affect a client's expectations. A divorce lawyer and a client should never have a sexual relationship during the case.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What You Can Expect From Your Lawyer


Whenever a relationship is established, its participants form expectations of each other. The lawyer-client relationship is no different. And as in any other relationship, lawyers and clients have rules and boundaries which govern those expectations. Some expectations are appropriate; others are not. Here is an overview of what you can expect of your lawyer.

Having the assistance of a skilled lawyer during your divorce gives you the security of having someone on your side who knows what to do. Furthermore, you will have someone you can talk to in confidence about your situation and how best to deal with it. Lawyers provide a variety of specific services for clients going through a divorce. These services include:
  • Consulting with you
  • Educating you about the law and facts
  • Devising and carrying out case strategy
  • Investigating the law and the facts
  • Preparing and reviewing documents
  • Negotiating a settlement
  • Preparing and filing all necessary court papers
  • Preparing you to testify
  • Preparing other witnesses to testify
  • Hiring experts and appraisers
  • Conducting discovery
  • Responding to discovery initiated by your spouse
  • Preparing for court appearances including trial
  • Conducting trials and hearings
  • Advising you about what to expect.
  • Advising you on conduct and alternatives
  • Taking the heat for tough decisions
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Social Security and Divorce


The divorce court has no authority over Social Security benefits. They are federal benefits that the federal government can give or take away. They are not an asset for the court to distribute in divorce.

If your marriage is nearing the ten-year mark, and you're thinking of getting a divorce, here's one reason to stick around for a little while--at least if your spouse earns more money than you do.

Under current Social Security laws, a divorced spouse can get benefits on a former husband's or wife's Social Security record if the marriage lasted at least ten years. The divorced spouse must be 62 years of age or older and unmarried.

If the spouse has been divorced at least two years, he or she can get benefits on account of the worker's record, even if the worker is not retired. However, the worker must have enough credits to qualify for benefits and be age 62 or older. The amount of benefits a divorced spouse can receive has no effect on the amount of benefits a current spouse can receive.
Here are a few factors to consider:

  • You may be entitled to more Social Security benefits on your own record than on your ex-spouse's record if you have a more consistent work history than your ex-spouse and if you have typically earned more money.

  • If you are substantially younger than 62 you may well be skeptical about whether the Social Security system will be around in its current form by the time it is your turn to collect your benefits.

  • The rule requires you to remain single--but it may be more advantageous for you to marry rather than remaining single simply to preserve the right to these benefits.

For additional information see Social Security Online.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including divorce. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Washington Interrogatories


Interrogatories are part of the discovery process in a legal action. Discovery is where the attorneys are trying to find out information from the other party about their case. It may be information that is helpful to maintaining your case, or helpful in defending you case.

Interrogatories are simply written questions, that must be answered in writing under oath. The receiving party has 30 days to answer the interrogatories. Sometimes interrogatories are paired with Request for Production of Documents, that requires the party to submit copies of relevant documents.

If you have been served with Interrogatories, it is wise to have an attorney review them before submitting them to the other party.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. We typically send Interrogatories to the other party as part of the discovery process. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Decision Making in Washington Parenting Plans


Parents have the responsibility to make decisions and perform other parental functions necessary for the care and growth of their minor children. In Washington, a Parenting Plan contains a provision for decision making authority. The Parenting Plan allocates decision making authority solely to one parent or jointly to both parties regarding the child's education, health care, religious upbringing, and other major decisions (which include joining the military, marriage, drivers license, body piercing, tattoos, etc.). The parties may incorporate an agreement related to the care and growth of the child in these specified areas, or in other areas, into their Parenting Plan. Regardless of the allocation of decision-making in the Parenting Plan, either parent may make emergency decisions affecting the health or safety of the child. Each parent may make decisions regarding the day-to-day care and control of the child while the child is residing with that parent.

When mutual decision making is designated but cannot be achieved, the parties shall make a good-faith effort to resolve the issue through the dispute resolution process, as provided for in the Parenting Plan. This may involve counseling, mediation or arbitration. If this does not resolve the issue, then the parties may bring a motion in court to resolve the dispute.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including establishing Parenting Plans in family law actions. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Washington Spousal Maintenance


In Washington, the concept of alimony was replaced with spousal maintenance. Maintenance is based upon what the court ultimately determines is just, including the resources of the party requesting maintenance including the assets to be received and the need for child support, time needed to get training to become employable, the standard of living established during the relationship, the duration of the relationship, the age and condition (physical, emotional or financial) of the party requesting maintenance, and the ability of the paying spouse to meet his/her needs while paying maintenance.

There are always two issues that need to be addressed with spousal maintenance. The first is how much, and the second is how long. Unfortunately there is no scientific formula to determine either of these. It is more of an art than it is a science. A good, experienced family law attorney can give you an idea of what you might expect from your trial judge.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including determining spousal maintenance is divorce actions. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Post Secondary Education Expense


With high school graduations taking place, it it time to consider the issue of paying for college expenses. In Washington, the court does not have the authority to order a married couple to pay for the children's college education, it is left up to the parents to decide, what if any, contribution to make.

In the event of a divorce, the court has the authority to determine post-secondary education. It is basically the continuation of child support beyond age 18 or graduation from high school, although the method of computation is different. The first issue the court must decide, is whether or not to order it. Factors the court considers is whether the parents went to college and whether they would have contributed had there not been a divorce. In most cases today, the court orders the parents to contribute.

The second issue, is how much the parties must pay. There is not a set formula, it is up to the parties to agree, or the court to determine what is reasonable. Typically, the court will cap the expense at the cost of attending the University of Washington. This way the child can attend any school they want, but if they go out of state or to private school, the parents are not obligated to pay beyond the cost of the local public institution. If the child attends a lesser expensive institution, the actual cost would be used. The court will usually use the posted cost of attendance at the institution for tuition, room and board, fees, transportation and personal expenses.

The big issue is frequently how to split the expense. It is typically split between the parents based upon their comparative net incomes. The bigger question is typically how much, if any, the child should pay. The answer depends upon the trial judge, it all depends.

It is important to remember that you must make a formal court request for post-secondary education support before the underlying obligation of support terminates.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including post secondary education and Child Support Modification actions. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Renton Family Law Lawyer Peter Mogren


I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you something about myself. I joined our law firm in 1980, became a partner in 1985, and became managing partner in 1987. My practice is primarily focused on Family Law (divorce, custody, support, modification, relocation, property division, parenting plans, parentage, etc.), Estate Planning (Wills, Community Property Agreements, Durable Power of Attorneys, etc.), and Probate.

I was born in Seattle, Washington, in May, 1955, and was raised here my entire life. As a child I was on the local J.P. Patches, Stan Boreson, and Captain Puget television shows. I received my B.A. in Business Administration and Accounting from Seattle Pacific University in 1977. I then received my J.D. from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) in 1980.

I was admitted to the Washington State Bar Association in 1981, and also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington. I am a member of the Seattle-King County, South King County and Washington State Bar Associations. I am also a member of the Christian Legal Society.

I am married and have 2 children in college. I enjoy running (5K's), skiing (both water and snow) and working with my church youth group (I lead a small group of Senior High School guys every week).
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, estate planning and probate. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Changes to Washington Child Support Law


Governor Gregoire just signed a new law changing how we calculate Child Support in the State of Washington. This is the first update to the Child Support Schedules in years. The new changes will go into effect October 1, 2009.

Some of the changes to the child support calculations are as follows:


  • The Child Support Schedules start at combined net income of $1,000 instead of $600.

  • The Child Support Schedules continue to a combined net income of $12,000, instead of stopping at $5,000 (presumtive) and $7,000 (advisory).
  • Some overtime and 2nd job income can be excluded from income.
  • The deduction for retirement contributions from gross income is increased from $2,000 to $5,000 per year.
  • The method of determining income to be imputed to a parent when records are lacking has been expanded in a heirarchy.
  • Health care costs (to be shared) have been defined.
  • The minimum support payment has been increased from $25 per child per month to $50 per child per month.

This could have a significant effect on many Child Support Orders, increasing the amounts that will be due in the State of Washington. If you would like to have your child support order reviewed to determine the amount of child support under the new laws, please call our office.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the determination of Child Support and Child Support Modification actions. Please visit our web page at http://www.mgrlaw.com/ for more information.