Family Law

Family Law

When you are going through a divorce, settling issues related to your children is often one of the most important aspects of your case. There are many different aspects to the practice of family law, Larry Lofgren has the experience to help you through difficult times. Larry’s focus is creating a legal plan that best represents your family’s goals and needs.

Divorce

The end of a marriage can be a difficult time in a person’s life. Hurt feelings, conflicting emotions, and confusion often arise. Because the outcome of your divorce will likely have long-lasting repercussions, it is important to select a skilled attorney who will listen carefully to your unique situation and sort out your rights and relevant legal issues. You will find I am a compassionate and knowledgeable legal advisor who will inform and advocate for you throughout your dissolution process. I have a record of settling even the most complicated cases without a trial, however I am also an experienced litigator prepared to take your case all the way to trial if necessary.
Uncontested Divorce
When both parties can agree on property and income division, a parenting plan, and the other essentials of the divorce, an uncontested divorce is faster and much less expensive. It is important to have an attorney write up or review your settlement agreement and file the appropriate paperwork so that you can be sure your divorce decree reflects your intentions. An attorney can only represent one party in the divorce as it is unethical to represent both parties.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is similar to divorce in that property and debts are divided and assigned, child custody and support is determined, and spousal maintenance may be awarded, but parties remain married at the conclusion. It is important to discuss this option carefully with your legal advisor. After six months, either party may convert a Legal Separation to a Dissolution of Marriage by filing a motion to the Superior Court.

Reasons to consider legal separation instead of divorce may include:

  • Retention of employer-sponsored health and medical benefits for both spouses
  • Religious tenets forbidding divorce
  • Uncertainty about whether to permanently end the marriage

Mediation

Spouses involved in divorce or legal separation proceedings may choose to attend mediation before their case proceeds to trial. I represent the rights of clients in the mediation process by attending the mediation and advocating on their behalf.

Child Support

Child support payments are calculated based on a statutory formula involving the net income of both parents. For a rough estimate of the child support obligation in your case, you may visit the Washington Department of Social and Health Services’s  Washington State Child Support Calculator.

Though establishing net income is often straightforward, there are some situations where the accurate net income is difficult to prove. I will go the extra mile to obtain the necessary documents to establish an accurate net income.

Additional or “extraordinary expenses”

In addition to basic child support obligations, parents will also have to share the burden of additional expenses, or  “extraordinary expenses.” Extraordinary expenses are not within the category of child support. Examples include: Education, sports or extracurricular activities, work-related childcare, travel.

Payment for extraordinary expenses is also based on the parents’ net incomes. Each parent will be responsible for paying their proportional share, or percentage, of the combined total net income of both parents. For instance, if one parent earns $3,000/month and the other earns $6,000/month, allocation of the extraordinary expense would be divided up as 33% and 66%, respectively.

Child Custody, Parenting Plans, Paternity Proceedings

I handle custody and visitation issues in a wide range of contexts, including: divorce, mediation, paternity proceedings, modifications and child relocation and disputes.

Modifications to Child Support, Maintenance, or Parenting Plans

Changes in life circumstances may warrant a review and modification of existing court orders regarding child support, custody, or visitation. I can review your case to see if you have a basis for a deviation from your current orders. Contact my law office today for assistance.

Guardian Ad Litem

A Guardian Ad Litem, or GAL, may be appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child in a child custody case. The GAL, along with the parents or other person seeking custody, is a party to the case RCW 26.12.175.  I am certified as a Title 26 Guardian Ad Litem with the Kitsap Superior Court.

The duties of a GAL vary and are determined by court order.  Normally they include an investigation and  recommendation to the court of an appropriate parenting plan, however sometimes duties are limited to such issues as investigating claims of parental alienation or determining whether restrictions on parental decision-making are warranted, for example.

What does a Guardian Ad Litem investigation consist of?

The Guardian Ad Litem will visit the homes of both parties seeking custody. He or she will usually interview both parents, the children, relatives, teachers, and friends. The GAL may consider other information such as psychological or school records. Though the GAL will take the child’s preferences into account and report them to the court, they will not rely solely on the child’s preferences to determine their best interest. After the investigation, the GAL creates a report with recommendations for the court.

Preparing for a Guardian Ad Litem’s investigation can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. Though child custody cases can be very emotional, it is important to present only the most relevant and persuasive set of facts to your GAL. As an attorney, I will advise my clients how to communicate effectively with their own Guardian Ad Litem, and my clients benefit from my additional training and experience as a Guardian Ad Litem.

Information in this family law web page is intended to help you understand and prepare for some of the more common issues encountered in family law. Please be advised that family law cases can be complex and multifaceted. The information here should not be construed as legal advice in your particular case.