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Washington State Divorce Legal Issues

People approaching Washington divorces are often surprised by the deficiency of clear rules. People ask their lawyers, ” How much alimony do I have to pay?” ”How much child support will I owe?” How long I will have to pay?” How much of my pension does she get?” With very few exceptions, Washington Divorce Online has found that the law itself cannot give you very precise answers to these questions.

Either you and your spouse will negotiate a settlement between yourselves or a judge will determine the arrangements for you. In Washington State divorce cases, there are now formal guidelines that the court must follow in awarding child support. However, on most issues, judges are unfettered to implement their own discretion after hearing evidence, and this discretion extends even to child support guidelines.

You take your chances when you and your spouse go to trial. It can be a roll of the dice. Most judges do their best to be fair and professional, but, like the rest of us, judges are susceptible to their own prejudices and biases. If you don’t like the judge’s decisions you will either learn to live with them or you can appeal to a higher court, but few people ever utilize the appeal process. Appeals are difficult to win because the burden is on the person making the appeal to prove to the higher court that the trial judge misinterpreted the law or abused the discretion permitted the judge by law. Even if you are one of the few who wins on appeal, all you get most of the time is a new trial. The only way to be sure that your Washington divorce meets your needs is for you and your spouse to negotiate the resolution yourselves.

When you negotiate your agreement, you negotiate a contract voluntarily. You sign it voluntarily. You cannot decide that neither of you will support your children, and you cannot subject your children to danger or neglect. But, within very broad limits you are free to decide together, how you will resolve the issues at hand.

Settlement arrangements are negotiated in the shadow of the law. That means, you negotiate with an eye on what you think would happen if you were to go to trial and let the judge decide. Experienced lawyers often think they can predict what would happen at trial. Washington State Divorce lawyers tend to develop a consensus or sense of industry standards about the results of trials. They may agree that the judges “always give the wife half the house” or ” a third of the husbands pension.” They might agree that in a particular case $200.00 a week for child support would be unlikely. Lawyers who have appeared many times before the same judge may acquire useful generalizations. Much of this may be true indeed, but the truth is that you cannot depend on it. You may get a particular judge, or you may get that judge on a bad day, or your lawyer may be wrong. Although most lawyers will sovereignly foretell the outcome in court, few will guarantee you the conclusion. You need to treat such predictions with healthy ske pticism.