Going through a divorce, or dissolution, is one of the most emotional and difficult experiences one can experience. We are here to help you navigate the dissolution process, from start to finish, including division of debts and assets, child custody, child support and spousal maintenance.
We have represented hundreds of clients at each stage of divorce proceedings, including negotiation, mediation and litigation. We are uniquely qualified to handle all dissolution matters, whether agreed, or contested, simple, or complicated. We have represented clients with no assets, as well as clients with multi-million dollar marital estates. We have represented clients who have agreed to resolve their differences outside of court, and those who have taken their case to trial.
Military divorces sometimes have complicated processes that differ from civil divorces, including how health care and retirement benefits are provided, along with varying approaches based on the specific cause(s) for divorce. Our team has a wealth of experience representing both members and nonmembers, ensuring our strategies and recommendations will be developed with the proper understanding of your specific situation.
Legal separation is a binding separation that allows for the dissolution of assets, creation of custodial arrangements, or set spousal support. Couples typically legally separate for financial, tax, or religious reasons, and it can provide legal clarity for all parties. Grounds for legal separation are similar to those for divorce, but may be employed if a couple intends to resolve their relationship in the future, or are seeking other arrangements when a divorce may not be immediately feasible or appropriate. Our family law counselors can provide guidance on whether legal separation makes the most sense for you and your particular situation, and how best to proceed.
Ending a relationship, regardless of your marital status is difficult. It can be even more difficult when you have parenting, custody or property issues that you need addressed. The law provides for the dissolution of a committed intimate relationship, when certain factors have been met. If a committed intimate relationship exists, it gives the court authority to divide property between the parties. RCW 26.26 provides a framework allowing a mother and alleged, or presumed father to ask the court to establish paternity, divide parenting responsibilities between the parties, award child support and attorney fees.
These agreements help create legally binding standards and aspects that typically lay out the financial, liability, or property aspects of two or more people choosing to live together.
Cohabitation agreements remove assumptions by a court regarding the distribution of property upon the death of one (or multiple) partner(s), ensuring their goals are met and the rights of all parties are made clear.
While Washington State recognizes same-sex marriage, there are other challenges that these and other LGBTQ couples face regarding taxes, benefits, custodial rights, and other areas. Our team is experienced at navigating the local, state, and national laws and rulings you may encounter, and are ready to consult with you to take on the challenges you may be facing or goals you want to achieve.
Prenuptual / Antenuptial Agreements
Pre- or ante-nuptial agreements are contracts that are created in advance of a legally binding marriage, and are typically employed to protect financial assets of each spouse-to-be. They can be used in cases where one spouse carries significant assets, or debts, into the relationship, if there are pre-planned financial decisions to be made in the future, or to outline the amount of spousal maintenance or support will be paid in the case of a divorce or other dissolution event. Our qualified counsel can ensure that the intent and goals of one of these agreements is clear, whether it can be legally upheld, and what it means for your / your future spouse’s future.
Hight Net Worth
If your divorce involves high-net worth assets, it is imperative you have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to help you identify and value your assets. Only an experienced attorney can advise you how to navigate the complexity of a high-asset dissolution. This includes the use of experts to provide you the information you need to engage in meaningful settlement negotiations, and trial, if necessary. The use of the right expert in high-net worth cases can give you a superior advantage in negotiations and at trial.
These cases often require intense attention to detail, and attention from your lawyer, and your experts. These cases often take longer to resolve, and require an attorney with patience and perseverance. Here, not only do you get a preeminent representation and experience but you get it a fraction of the cost of other local large firms.
QDRO / Retirement Division
QDRO, or qualified domestic relations orders, are court-mandated orders providing a former spouse some part of a retirement benefit earned during a marital relationship. The “Q” in “QDRO” is in effect once the governing plan accepts the domestic relations order put forth by the court. Access to funds or benefits from a retirement account is only made feasible by this qualification, according to U.S. federal law. Working with an attorney as early as possible in the case of a divorce or relationship separation to develop a plan to secure a QDRO is the proper first step in acquiring one, and our team is knowledgeable on the intricacies of these proceedings.
Emergency Protection Orders
Some situations may require immediate, urgent protective orders against a partner or spouse. These may range from prevention of in-person or other contact, access to specific assets such as vehicles, bank accounts, homes, or other property, or custodial rights. Understanding your legal options is critical in these situations, and having prepared legal counsel is an important step in doing so. These orders provide protection for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, stalking, harassment, and other activities.
When your relationship ends, the most important issue a parent can face is the custody of their children. At this critical time, it is imperative you have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side.
There are a number of statutory factors the court will consider when making a determination regarding which parent the child should reside with the majority of time (the “primary parent”). What the parenting arrangement should be, either on a temporary, or permanent basis can be decided by agreement, or by a judge if no agreement can be reached. Whether by agreement, or determined by the Court, the parenting arrangement will be memorialized in a court order, called a parenting plan. This document will set out what dates and times the children will reside with each parent, as well as allocate decision making, and transportation arrangements.
Do not rely on the internet, friends or family to advise you regarding your child custody situation. Failing to take the right action, at the right time can result in the loss of the opportunity to obtain the best results in your case.
We offer immediate, fierce and competent emergency representation on your behalf. Emergency custody may be necessary if your child is in danger due to the actions or behavior of the other parent. This can be due to drugs, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, neglect, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse. Our experienced attorneys will help you seek an emergency order that places the child in your primary care, and restricts contact with the other parent.
It is imperative when facing a crisis involving your child, you have experienced attorneys to get you the results you need.
Adoption is the legal process where one, or both, parent’s parental rights are terminated. This allows a new family, stepparent, or relative, to adopt the child. A parent’s rights can be terminated voluntarily (by agreement), or involuntarily after a determination by a judge. The adoption process can be complex, and often requires an experienced attorney to help prospective adoption parents navigate the legal process.
Step Parent Adoption
If the parent agrees, and consents to relinquish his or her parental rights, the adoption process can be relatively straightforward. In that case, the relinquishing parent consents to the adoption, and signs several documents confirming his or her agreement. The adopting parent and his or her spouse go through a short investigation, and a post-placement report is generated. Finally, a hearing is held to finalize the adoption.
If the parent whose rights you wish to terminate is not in agreement, the process can be more complicated, requiring the requesting party to demonstrate it is appropriate to terminate that parent’s rights.
Whether the adoption is agreed, or contested, having experienced and knowledgeable attorneys on your side is the best way to ensure your case is handled expeditiously and competently.
Trust this important process to an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to handle your case, whether agreed, contested, simple or complex.
Fathers’ rights may include a number of facets of the parental relationship, including full- or part-time custody, access to parenting time, rights to be consulted before adoption of his child(ren) by another party, and more. As marital and custodial rights and statutes evolve, knowing where you stand in your parental relationship is important, and helps ensure your familial goals are met and exceeded.
Parents in Washington have an obligation to support their children. If you are the primary residential parent, you should be receiving child support from the other parent. Calculating support is quite complex, and should be done with an experienced attorney. Child support in Washington is calculated using each parent’s income. While disclosure of income of other persons in the household is required, it is not used in the “standard calculation.”
The court may deviate upward or downward from the standard child support obligation for a number of reasons. These include a shared residential schedule, non-recurring income, tax planning and children from other relationships. It is wholly within the discretion of the court whether to deviate from the standard calculation, and it cannot leave the primary parent with insufficient resources in their household.
In addition to the standard calculation, the court can order each parent to pay their proportional share of uninsured medical expenses, and other special expenses. Special expenses can include, but is not limited to educational expenses, extracurricular activities, private school tuition, daycare and long-distance transportation costs. Tax exemptions and responsibility for maintaining the children’s health insurance are also allocated in a child support order.
Court orders including visitation, child support payments, or spousal support are all legally binding actions that require fulfillment by one or more parties. In the event that these orders are not completed, all or in part, it may result in the finding of one or more parties in contempt. It is important to understand when you (or another party) are in contempt, or how to enforce court orders in your favor. Our team can assess your specific situation and provide recommendations and solutions that meet your needs.
When unmarried parents end their relationship, paternity and child support should be established so that the parent with whom the child resides a majority of the time receives child support. There are special rules that apply to unmarried parents, and it is important you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney before attempting to establish child support.
Modifying Child Support
Child support can be modified every twenty-four months if there has been a change of income of the parties, or anytime based on a substantial change in circumstances. Child support issues can be complex, and having an experienced attorney is important to ensure you are receiving the appropriate amount of support, and paying the appropriate amount of support.
Many family law litigants face the need for, or to defend against, domestic violence protection orders. When an individual, or a child is in fear of imminent bodily harm, the court can grant an emergency protection order that can order the perpetrator to not have any contact with you, and to stay away from your home, your work, and your school. The court can also order the perpetrator not have any contact with your children, and to stay away from their home, or school. At a return hearing, the court can also order the perpetrator to undergo a domestic violence assessment, and complete any follow-up treatment as well as give you use of real and personal property and award attorney fees.
When your personal safety is at risk, or you are facing an order being issued against you, trusting an attorney who has experience prosecuting domestic violence cases is the best way to ensure the results come out in your favor.
If a parent fails to make their required child support payments, the State, or the parent who should be receiving the payments, may bring a motion for contempt against the non-paying parent. Similarly, if a parent fails to comply with a parenting plan, the other parent may bring a motion for contempt against the non-complying parent.
If the non-complying parent is found in contempt, the court has the authority to enter a judgment in the amount of the past-due amount, plus interest, make-up residential time, order attorney fees, a civil penalty, order jail time, and require conditions the non-paying parent must comply with to purge the finding of contempt.
Upon the dissolution of a marriage, the assets and debts acquired or created during the marriage are typically divided between the parties, with some exceptions. While some distributions can be mutually agreed upon and approved by the court, not all dissolutions are so simple. In those cases, the court will follow a prescribed process that involves identifying how assets or debts were acquired, what types of assets or debts they are, intent or knowledge surrounding them, and more. Having an attorney who understands the best methods to approach the distribution of the marital estate is critical, whether the parties involved are amicable or not, in order to follow the rule of law and ensure there are no future challenges.
Mediation is utilized for various family law disputes, including divorce, custody issues, asset and debt distribution, spousal support. By using mediation, individual parties (including unmarried parents) work with their attorney(s) and have negotiations facilitated by a neutral party who works to create a settlement outside of the courtroom. Mediation proceedings can happen in advance of any litigation, or after it has been filed, with the ultimate goal of delivering an agreed-upon settlement that can be presented to the court.
In certain custodial arrangements where a parent or guardian may ask to relocate a child or children, there may be legal requirements for notification and approval to do so. In Washington State, there are multiple factors, including certain terms of notice, distances of relocations, facets of visitation, and other details that may be involved. Our team is well-versed in the forms, statutes, and other requirements that need fulfillment, and can provide you with the proper guidance to ensure a relocation for work, personal, or other reasons is properly facilitated and legally viable.
Sophia is very personable and professional, I would recommend her and will use her again for anything related to my children. Thanks again Sophia!!
Towards the end of my divorce about a month before pretrial, I was forced to find another attorney…. Luckily I found Sophia. She was such a breath of fresh air! Luckily things ended up in my favor and we did not end up in trial. But she was so professional and down to earth. Always attentive and has great communications!
Sophia is a knowledgeable and understanding attorney. She helped our family every step of the way. We will always use her in the future.
Sophia has been my attorney for over 3 years and I purposefully waited until I seen her in action at trial before writing a review. To me that is where it counts. Even after working with her for 3 years I was amazed in court. Sophia is extremely knowledgeably and knows exactly what to say and do in court. She knew what RCW’s, laws, statutes etc., related to specific issues to help my case. She was fully prepared and does an amazing job getting the information she needs to prove her case. The other party in my case was a manipulative liar and she completely exposed him and shut him down. I was once the person reading reviews and going through the stress related to picking an attorney. I remember feeling like its such a risk, how do you really know who is the right one. I can say without a doubt, I will tell anyone that not only do you want Sophia but you NEED Sophia as your attorney!
I was the respondent in a DVPO case. I am extremely pleased with her representation and preparation. As a former law enforcement officer, I have testified in hundreds of cases. I have seen many attorneys prepare by reviewing the file in the hallway outside of the courtroom. This was not the case with Ms. Palmer. She was extremely prepared and presented a rock-solid defense against an opposing attorney. The case was ultimately dismissed. I hope to never have to use her again, but she comes highly recommended in my book. Thank you Ms. Palmer.
Sophia M. Palmer Law has represented me through my parenting case and helped my case tremendously and has also just won my protection order case. When they represent me I know and feel how much they care, believe in me, and put everything they’re great at into representing me. The amount of hard work and care they put into all of my cases is amazing and such a huge relief to have them representing me. They are amazing!