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WHAT SHOULD I ASK FOR IN MY DIVORCE?

Many men and women of long-term marriages come into my office after their spouse asks for a divorce feeling as if it is their fault that their marriage is dissolving. They express to me that they could have done this better, or done that more efficiently. One woman told me that she would still be married “if I didn’t focus so much on my children.”

Divorce is an emotional time. Someplace all the blame of a divorce on themselves and when they find themselves in court, they feel as though they deserve very little from their husband, or on the other hand give everything to the wife that she is asking for.

But the fact is that both parties contributed to the marriage and both parties deserve their fair share of what they earned. As a Divorce Attorney in Marysville, Washington, I pride myself in instilling confidence in my clients that they deserve to live comfortably after divorce. So what should you ask for in your divorce?

The Marital Home

The marital home is community property that is shared between both spouses. Regardless of whether you personally never made the mortgage payments, your name wasn’t on the deed or the mortgage, or whether your spouse already “kicked you out,” you have a right and interest in the home or the value of the home. Don’t assume that you have no rights in the house just because you already told your spouse that he or she could have it. A home is one of the most precious of belongings, and you deserve to benefit from a place you spent so much time in.

Pension Accounts and Retirement 401k Accounts

Financial accounts come with so many different names. I have plenty of clients who report to me that they have no idea what accounts their spouse opened or has from work. Many of us just don’t keep track of how much money is coming out of our paychecks toward this. Because I work with so many clients who work for Boeing or other large corporation, I am well-aware of these accounts and how to find them. Just because you did not pay into an account does not mean you shouldn’t benefit from an account your spouse paid into. After all, you may have taken care of the children, made meals, taxied kids and spouses to activities, and ran errands for your spouse. This entitles you to a portion of the retirement. You worked for that retirement, too.

Personal Belongings, Guns, Jewelry

“What will I do with his gun?” I hear this all the time. There are some items that are very personal to one spouse or the other, but that was purchased using the marital funds. There may be instances where one item, piece of jewelry, gun, rare coin, power tools or another collectible is worth a lot of money. During a divorce, it is important to take an inventory of these items and properly value them so that each party is properly compensated in a divorce.

Stocks, Bonds, and Accounts

It is impossible for you to make a settlement agreement with your spouse until you have all the information. Your spouse may offer to end things “quickly” or “painlessly” if you just sign the agreement. He or She may offer you something that you believe has great value if you agree to sign—but how are you to know what is a fair deal unless you know what you may be missing? Often times, one party has a portfolio of stocks and bonds and they know their spouse does not know the value.

Liabilities

You may not realize that you are on a credit card with your spouse that he or she will never pay for. This may destroy your credit and not allow you to qualify for housing in the future. It is important for you to know what community debts you have before you finalize your divorce. Otherwise, you could be left with little money and loads of debt.

I have specialized in divorce and child custody cases for over 20 years. I work hard for my clients, men and women alike, get what they deserve in their divorce.

 

 

The Many Faces of Child Support Calculation

The State of Washington Courts use many standard forms which are required when filing for a Legal Action.  This is most evident when dealing with a Divorce/Dissolution, Child Custody/Paternity Action, or a Third Party Custody Case.    In most dissolutions cases with children you must file about 12 legal forms to address the needs to bring the case.  These forms include, a Summons, a Petition for Dissolution, a Parenting Plan, which sets forth whom will be the Custodial parent and what visitation is being proposed for the other parent.  Also included would be a Stat Sheet, a Confidential Information Sheet, a Case Cover sheet, and an affidavit of service of all of the information.   These documents and often many more the courts will require the parties to have when divorcing. 

                A Motion is usually filed which sets forth what is being requested.  These can include Restraining Orders, division of debts, a Temporary Parenting Plan, requesting a Guardian ad Litem is appointed in a contested custody case, use of property pending finalization, or moving one party out of the home.  Declarations are needed to give the Court evidence on why it should grant you the relief that you are requesting. This is your only time and your only way to testify under penalty of perjury to the court for this temporary hearing.  These Declarations can and should be complete with attached exhibits supporting your position.  In many cases there are 4-7 Declarations done.  This is especially true in contested custody, or when there are allegations of Domestic Violence.  Also included in the initial documents is a Child Support Order proposed, as well as Child Support Worksheets. 

                It is important to remember that the most recent court rules require you to file originals with the court, together with a working copy for the Judge, and that person who is not the filing party serve all documents upon the other side at least 12 days before the hearing. You will need to file with the Court and the Judge working copies of the proof, or Return of Service, prior to the hearing to show you have done so.

                I am now going to outline just some of the issues surrounding the Child Support Work Sheets.  The Work Sheets work mainly with the Net Income of the parties.  In the event one of the parties is not working and they are medically able to work then income will be imputed to them by the Court.  This is due to the fact that both parents are legally responsible for the support of their children.  The State of Washington has a standard setting of imputed income averaged by age of the person and if they are male or female.  What can also be argued to the Court is the person’s previous wage.  For instance, if they have only been making minimum wage, then that wage, not a higher imputed wage is used.  Utilizing the wage times 40 hours a week, times 4.3 weeks, which is the average number of weeks due to 4 months of the year having five weeks.

                There are many different deductions that can be taken out of the Gross wages. This number is known as the before taxes income.  These include State and Federal Taxes.  The parties can use the Federal Tax tables,  1040 wage calculations, the previous years of Taxes deducted or the amount listed on the paystubs provided to the Court.  A party can also argue that too much tax is taken in order to create a Tax Return Check, and recalculate based upon claimed deductions.  This is an area of much dispute and manipulation by the parties and as such the Court requires recent paystubs and two years tax returns from the parties, together with a Financial Declaration or budget from each.

                There are many other deductions from Gross Income, such as Pension Plan payments, State Industrial Insurance, Union dues, Spousal maintenance paid, Normal business expenses.  The Court uses the combined monthly income of the parties and the age of the children to determine what child Support is needed, then divides it according to the percentage of the combine income that each party makes in the relationship based upon the Economic Table issued by the State.  The percentages of the total is very important as it will be used also to divide the amount of daycare incurred by the parties, the health Insurance expense for the children only, transportation expense, and sometimes the proportionate shares of payment of the Guardian ad Litem in the case, and uninsured health care.  The amount of Child Support paid and the net incomes together with the Need, Financial Declarations, length of marriage are used to determine if Spousal Maintenance is paid and if so how much.  That is another topic altogether.

                There are a number of what are called “deviations” from the Standard calculation of child support that the court can consider if it does not take away from the income needed to raise the child.  The deviations requested can be granted or denied on a case by case basis.  Some of the derivations include the amount of time the child spend s in the non-custodial parent’s home.  If for instance the noncustodial parent has the child 1/3 of the time, and therefore provides housing, food, power etc. for that child the court can use that to say that credit against the child support may be given.  This would deal with a complicated formula where we have over nights assigned to each parent, with basically child support going both ways during the time each parent has the child, to come up with a net number or transfer taking all that into consideration, together with the disparity of the net incomes of the parties.  There are a number of these deviations including support of other children of other relationships, split custody arraignments, extraordinary wealth etc.  Each case is different and without an advocate on your side they will not be given or argued for you if you in fact do not request it and give evidence in the proper format to the court to support it.

                What is vital to each case is that what you submit to the Court cannot be undone, redone or later changed.  Prevailing on your case could depend upon a single sentence in your declaration, how you drafted your documents, what evidence you gave to support it etc.  Once in the Court file it basically cannot be erased and if you attempt to give a new or different position to the Court  you must understand first that it can be flatly denied, and second you will at a minimum have to explain why the Court  should entertain such changes.  Keep in mind that child support in the amount of $500 for 18 years is $108,000.  Child Support of $400 for 18 years is $86,000.  As you can see these small changes can make a huge impact upon your future and that of your family.  Having an expert who has done this work every day for almost 20 years will make a major difference just in child support alone, which can and often does turn into Post Secondary Educational support until the child reaches the age of 23 years.

 

Washington DUI Breath-test Upgrades

The Dräger Alcotest is the first upgrade in the last 20 years that Washington Law enforcement is making to their DUI breath-test machines. The new Dräger Alcotest 9510 (above right) runs microsoft software with a touchscreen for easier use, and more accuracy when testing the alcohol content in a person's breath.  The new machine can scan drivers licenses to provide perfect accuracy of personal information, and then prompts officers through questions on the situation which led to the test.  The new machines also offer instant online cataloging, instead of the weekly manual gathering of results as many machines failed to make currently.

The old datamaster would test the breath-alcohol content based off of an alcohol mixure created by lab tech's weekly. the chemical solution would be put into the machine as a baseline, so the machine then could compare the results of a person's breath, with that of the mixure.  The problems in the past with this approach were many.  For years the technicians would go down to the liquor store and purchase alcohol with the stated proof on the bottles.  What independent testing found was that the alcohol waried widely in Proofs, but passed the Liquor Control Board to allow it to be sold as such.  When using a varying baseline to compare the reults of such breath odor alcohol the State of Washington was incarcerating individuals on shoddy science.

In the Seattle times report of the upgrades, it brings up the State Patrol being under fire in the past for using the DataMaster machines, as well for their DUI protocols.

In 2008, three King County District Court judges issued a blistering 29-page ruling, saying that the lab engaged in “fraudulent and scientifically unacceptable” practices that have compromised breath-test readings used to prosecute suspected drunken drivers.

The judges found that a “multiplicity of errors,” including how breath-test results were analyzed and verified at the lab, affected thousands of cases in recent years.  Specifically, the judges criticized the work of the former state toxicologist and the former lab manager. The allegations included errors to the way the breath-test machines were calibrated.  What was happening was many tests to check validity of the baseline alcohol samples were signed off as "Tested" independently when in fact they were not.

The State Patrol says the new machines utilize a dry gas standard instead of the liquid solution to verify that the instrument is working properly. The Dräger’s dry gas contains a known concentration of alcohol, allowing the instrument to verify that a suspect’s breath alcohol is being measured accurately and reliably.  The defense bar whom now has access to these devices are presently testing independently the working and accuracy of the devices as we feel it is important that innocent individuals do not lose the right to drive a vehicle, and are incarcerated without reliable evidence.

If you find yourself with a DUI, contact us to help you fight it today.

What happens after I get a DUI?

              Every DUI and reckless driving charge is different.  In each City, and every District Court in the County, alcohol driving offenses are handled differently.  Results in one city or court, may be handled completely different in another city or courtroom.  To many, this doesn’t make sense, seeing as the law is the same everywhere; however the law is being interpreted by people, all of whom handle things differently.  The Law sets forth a basic frame work to handle each case.

              When working within the bounds of different court rooms and cities, relationships and knowledge of those individuals in charge is very important.  It will give you insight on how they might react in certain circumstances.  Having a reputation, which can only be developed over time, is extremely important knowing that certain attorneys bring certain types of cases to trial. Finding a Local dui attorney Marysville WA has to offer, with an outstanding reputation is vital.

Questions an Attorney will typically ask right off the bat:

-Was it the Washington State Patrol, or a city police force that did the arrest?

                Different police departments have different reputations and better or worse track-records in alcohol related arrests.

-Was there a camera installed in the police vehicle, and or installed where you were booked?

                If a recording is available, it is important to get the video and audio of the events to have evidence of any part of the DUI procedure being done incorrectly. If a single step is missed, the entire case can be dismissed in court. This factor is very important.

-What was the BAC test level?

                The legal limit is .08, this is important because each machine has specific tolerance levels.  Tolerance levels are the amount of fluctuation a machine has been known to be off by; typically up to .03 higher or lower. Experts will testify to this, and it can form the Prosecutor’s and Judge’s attitude towards a case to rule more or less harshly dependant on the BAC test results.  For example, if the BAC test results a .15 or higher, the penalties for DUI or other Alcohol/Drug related arrests double.

-Is this the first DUI, the second, the third, etc.?

                Dependant on which number of offenses you have had in the past, punishment varies dramatically on the minimum jail time, the loss of license or ignition interlock devise, and fines in the statute of the case. Some judges feel that at the 3rd or 4th DUI, a person should serve a minimum of one year jail sentence.

-Are there any priors? This would include non-alcohol related crimes

Yes even speeding tickets.  Should someone with 20 speeding tickets get the same results as somebody with none?  How about somebody with several felonies?  What happens if the felonies are from a long time ago, the prosecutor considers every detail as all they ever see is the report which includes all past criminal and traffic history.

Whatever your situation, if you received a Local DUI, you are facing stress.  There are many issues to navigate in the DUI.  There are Department of Licensing hearings, which are separate from the criminal hearings.  There is losing your license or suspension, and the decision of an ignition interlock device.  For some, the greatest concern is the required assessment for addiction.  Where to go, what it will cost, what will the test be on? There could be Alcohol and drug information school.  There will be a victim’s panel, if there is Probation will you be able to move, go to Canada etc. This is why it is so important to find the best dui attorney Skagit County, and the greater Snohomish County area has to offer. What you need in these times of trouble is someone with a track record of success. You need an attorney who has fought DUI’s for over 20 years, and can answer every question.

  I use my skills and knowledge to walk side by side with my clients, and obtain the best result possible; not for the attorney, but for the client.  Many of my client's are stressed about the many issues facing them; they need more of an explanation than a Web-site can go into. I say to you, let's walk through this together, this too will pass.

Recreational Marijuana Business Names

The state Liquor Control Board – which would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board under a bill making its way through the state Senate – will announce Wednesday the first person to get a legal marijuana business license in Washington state.

The first licensee will be a producer-processor, according to board spokesman Brian Smith. The agency is licensing producers, or farmers, first so that they can get busy growing and harvesting products for state-licensed retail stores expected to open in early summer.

Smith wouldn’t reveal the first licensee’s identity. But he did say Washington’s first legal pot merchant wasn’t from Seattle. And he said the licensee got to be first because agency investigators have been dealing with applications on a first-come, first-served basis. “People who have their act together,” Smith said, are being processed more quickly than those who don’t. “This person met that criteria,” he said.

The state received over 7,000 license applications overall during a one-month window. There are three classes of license: producer, processor and retailer. Retailers cannot own other licenses, but producers also can hold processing licenses.

If you run into any issues with the law, contact a local DUI Attorney, or if any other issues arise, click here for our homepage showcasing a Marysville Attorney.

 

Road rage drivers collide

Two cars driving west on Interstate 90 struck each other multiple times at high speed in a road-rage incident Wednesday evening until they rolled in the median in Bellevue near Lake Sammamish.

The Washington State Patrol says the 32-year-old man driving one car tried to run away and was arrested by Bellevue police. The patrol says a 27-year-old woman and a 2-year-old boy in his car were not hurt.

A 29-year-old man driving the other car was injured and taken to Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue. The Patrol says both cars were totaled.

It's important to remember that the roads can get crazy; but not to lose your head at other drivers. Not only can you hurt yourself or as we see here others; it can come with serious jail time and leaving you with a record.

Drive safe.

Off Duty Officer Arrested for DUI in Washington

The Lewis County sheriff’s office says an off-duty deputy was arrested by the Washington State Patrol in a drunken driving stop about 1 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 5 near Chehalis.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield says 31-year-old Deputy Christopher P. Fulton of Napavine has been place on administrative leave for an internal investigation.

Though it scares many of us when an Agent of Defense is found breaking the law, it should come as a feeling of relief that we live in a state that all are held accountable for their crimes. Justice is fair and true; no one can escape it, even those whose duty is to uphold it.

A DUI like all other crimes is punishable under law, though with the right help the burden can be alleviated and at times removed. be sure to check out www.ducelawdui.com for help on a DUI in the area.

Marijuana Application Deadline Brings Hordes of People

 

A lot of wannabe pot entrepreneurs waited until the state deadline to apply for business licenses.

The number of applications increased by 1,200 in the past week, as state officials continue to process a glut of applications that came in just before the Dec. 20 deadline. In data released Tuesday, the state Liquor Control Board has now received 4,946 license applications. But that’s not the final tally as an undetermined number remain unprocessed. The state reports 2,113 applications for growing, 1,521 for processing, and 1,312 for retail stores. There are no limits on the number of licenses for growing and processing, although the state has capped total growing space at 2 million square feet.

State officials have set the number of retail licenses at 334. There are already 244 applications for just 21 stores in Seattle. Some applicants are likely to be eliminated by residency requirements, background checks and improper locations. Stores must be stand-alone businesses, and no pot businesses can be within 1,000 feet of venues frequented by youth, including libraries.

Still, Seattle will almost certainly have more qualified retail applicants than allotted stores. If that occurs, the state will conduct a lottery to determine winners. Growing licenses are divided into three tiers based on size, with the smallest farms occupying a maximum of 2,000 square feet, and the largest farms capped at 30,000 square feet. If all applicants were approved and used just half of their maximum licensed space the state would have more than 21 million square feet of pot farms.

If the state exceeds its 2 million square-foot goal, all growing licenses would be reduced by proportionate amounts to reach that total. State investigators plan to evaluate growing licenses first, so crops can be started as soon as possible in hopes of supplying retail stores by late May or early June. Growers have applied for licenses in 38 of 39 counties, with only tiny Garfield County (pop. 2,266 in 2010 census) not in the game.

Marijuana DUI consequences. 2013

The new 5912 bill has changes to the impaired driving laws in relation to Marijuana in Washington State.

The bill adds the exhibiting the effects of recently consumed marijauana to the negligent driving in the first degree. Also adds THC levels to the list of violations of which require a 30 day sentencing.

Laws relating to commercial drivers have also changed.

New CDL disqualifications were created for driving a cmmercial vehicle "with any measurable amount of THC" in the system, and for driving non-commercial vehicles with THC at or above the per se limit.

Eating Just an Appetizers for Dinner Legal?

There was a case in Bogle v. Magone, the U.S. Superior Court discussing rather it was LEGAL to eat just an appetizer and call it dinner. The answer was no. They brought up many arguments about the definition of appetizer in this case. The definition of an appetizer is a snack before dinner. there fore an appetizer can not legally be called dinner. They state how restaurants are misleading customers by telling them they can have an appetizer for dinner.

So 117 years ago the Supreme Court states that appetizers are eaten before a meal and, logically, that gastronomical event cannot be the same as the meal that follows.

Referenced from NWLawyer Magazine article Is It Legal to Just Eat Appetizers for Dinner? By David Skeen

I-502 Washington's New Marijuana Regulation Law

Sec. 37. RCW 46.61.506 and 2010 c 53 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:

 

(1) Upon the trial of any civil or criminal action or proceeding arising out of acts alleged to have been committed by any person while driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, if the person's alcohol concentration is less than 0.08 or the person's THC concentration is less than 5.00, it is evidence that may be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug.

(2)(a) The breath analysis of the person's alcohol concentration shall be based upon grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath.

(b) The blood analysis of the person's THC concentration shall be based upon nanograms per milliliter of whole blood.

(c) The foregoing provisions of this section shall not be construed as limiting the introduction of any other competent evidence bearing upon the question whether the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug.

(3) Analysis of the person's blood or breath to be considered valid under the provisions of this section or RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 shall have been performed according to methods approved by the state toxicologist and by an individual possessing a valid permit issued by the state toxicologist for this purpose. The state toxicologist is directed to approve satisfactory techniques or methods, to supervise the examination of individuals to ascertain their qualifications and competence to conduct such analyses, and to issue permits which shall be subject to termination or revocation at the discretion of the state toxicologist.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When can adults legally possess and use marijuana?

As of December 6, 2012, adults age 21 and over in Washington state can no longer be arrested under state law for possessing limited amounts of marijuana.

How much marijuana can adults legally possess under I-502?

Under Washington law, adults can possess 1 oz. of useable marijuana, 16 oz. of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 oz. of marijuana-infused product liquid form.

Can I grow marijuana at home?

No. Unless you are an authorized medical marijuana patient under Washington law, home growing is not allowed.

When can marijuana retail outlets sell marijuana?

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Health will have until December 1, 2013 to complete rulemaking that will create a system to license and regulate the production, processing, and sale of marijuana. Commercial businesses can be set up after rulemaking is complete and once a license is obtained.

Where will stores be located?

Licenses will authorize stand-alone marijuana businesses, with similar restrictions to the old state liquor stores. Marijuana stores must be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools and parks. The number of marijuana store licenses will also be determined in rulemaking.

Does I-502 change Washington's medical marijuana law?

No. Washington's Medical Use of Cannabis Act remains unchanged.

Can marijuana be used in public?

It will remain unlawful under Washington law to use marijuana in pubic. Similar to a traffic offense, violations will result in a civil infraction bringing a fine but not arrest.

Can a prospective employee still be drug tested for marijuana when applying for a job?

I-502 does not change Washington state employee law, which allows for employment drug testing in some situations.

How do the DUI provisions work under I-502?

I-502 creates a standard for marijuana impairment while driving, similar to the .08 cut-off for alcohol. The DUI provisions focus on active THC in one's system that can impair a drivers and not inactive marijuana metabolites that do not cause impairment. As is currently the law, an officer will need to have probable cause for an arrest and reasonable grounds to believe a driver is impaired before requiring a breath or blood test. Nor does it change the fact that blood tests can only be administered by medical professionals.

How will federal government respond to I-502?

Proponent of the new law look forward to working with federal officials in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation to ensure that it is fairly implemented. The law's tightly regulated system will improve public safety and increase respect for law enforcement. We hope that federal officials will respect the will of our state's voters and not enforce federal laws against Washington residents who are obeying state law.

When does I-502 take effect?

Here is a summary of important dates for implementation of I-502:

  • December 6th, 2012: Initiative 502 goes into effect.

On this date it will be legal for adults 21 and over to possess limited amounts of marijuana under Washington law. I-502's Driving Under the Influence provisions will also take effect.

  • December 1st, 2013: Rulemaking Must Be Completed.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Health must conduct rulemaking as specified by I-502 to set up a system to license and regulate the production, processing, and sale of marijuana. No commercial business can be set up until rule making is complete and license are obtained.

  • September 1st, 2015: Evaluation

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy must provide legislature with a preliminary evaluation and recommendations regarding the cost-benefit outcomes of I-502. Additional evaluations will be produced in 2017, 2022, and 2032.

  • TBD: Tax Rate Adjustment Recommendations

The Washington State Liquor Control Board shall review I-502 tax levels and make recommendations to the legislature regarding adjustments that would further the goal of discouraging use while undercutting illegal market prices.