Divorce Law Myths in Australia

There are many myths about the laws that govern divorce in Australia. A lot of television shows, such as Boston Legal will have many viewers believing that divorce is a complicated and daunting process. However the majority of divorces never make it to court and only about 5% actually have a judge that makes the final decision. The majority of divorce claims reach a mutual agreement between the two parties before entering the courtroom.

The assistance of a lawyer will speed up the process and will guide you through any complications along the way. A qualified divorce lawyer can answer all questions relating to your divorce claim, including child custody, courtroom affairs and division of assets and property. In most cases your lawyer will be able to reach a settlement with the other party without standing before a judge.

Equal Child Custody
The idea that children will receive equal custody by both parents is not true and neither is the thought that mothers receive more custody. There are a few legislations that state equal child custody however these legislations are not mandatory. The truth is child custody is decided by 3 factors; firstly the childs age and their ability to decide which parent is in their best interest.

Secondly, the safety of the venue the child will be residing, including the home, contents and the surrounding area. Lastly is the practicality of the arrangement, including the distance from school and other facilities the child requires. Another myth surrounding child custody is that there is a high abuse rate. The abuse rate is actually higher in intact families as opposed to separated families where both parents have custody.

Half All Assets and Property
Again only 5% of divorce claims settle property and assets before a judge, as the majority of claims are settled outside of court. Even when settling before a judge, the chance of receiving equal amounts is very rare. In contrast to what many people believe, the earning capacity of each spouse is not the basis for the division of property and assets. Rather home duties are weighed together and the home maker will in most cases receive up to 70%.

For example the father may be more employable than the mother; however the mother has more home caring skills and will most likely end up with a larger settlement. There are cases where the main home carer will not receive the majority of property and assets, and that is when assets exceed an exceptional amount, such as property over one million dollars.

The Jury Decides
Nearly all matters concerning family law will not have a jury and will only have a judge. Divorce claims are held in family or federal courts, where only a judge, registrar or magistrate is present. The only exception is criminal acts, which are not treated as family law and are handled differently.

The majority of simple answers surrounding divorce law are myths, because they cannot be explained briefly. If you are serious about a divorce claim, then you should consult a professional family divorce lawyer. The best way is to jump online and Google family lawyers in your area.

Items Of Public Divorce Records

There is no doubt at all that right to freedom of information act has changed the whole society. Few years back, no one would have thought that he could get the information related to the delicate issues like divorce through online application. However, this is now a reality. The public divorce records are available online through some formalities. The applicant has to fill the form online and then he can get the complete record within few days. It is easy and risk as well as stress free. The divorce might have occurred due to violence or abuse. Through the public records, it is now quite easy to find out all the details.

At second marriage, it is quite possible that the other party will like to know about the person in question. This is definitely possible. All these cases are filed in the county where both the spouse lives. However, keeping the divorce record is the matter of the state government. A very huge state repository is being maintained and it has been found that more than 40% of the marriages in United States are being broken within one year due to the various reasons. Thus, it is quite easy to understand that this state repository is huge and many records are being available.

Generally, these public records contain the details related to child, property, assets as well as the venue and the timing of the divorce. It should be kept in mind that majority of divorces are due to brutal assaults and both the spouse will definitely like to hide it. In fact, most of the records are being declared confidential and hence one will find that such records are not being available. However, on special request and on payment of certain fees these records might be handed over to the applicant.

A perfect divorce record will contain the records like time and location, all the settlement details, grounds for divorce, filing number, final decree as well as the pertinent information. There are many situations when the divorce records might be required. It can be simply a gesture made by some friend. Sometimes the spouse might want to remarry and hence he or she will have to present a copy of divorce record. Some of the government processes require the spouse to prove that they are now single and in all those circumstances, the person involved will have to provide the copy of the divorce record, which they can get through email, phone, and fax or by filling online form.

These details are also used for the genealogy research and there is no doubt at all that these records are very useful. Sometimes one will find that the public divorce records are also used for the negative purposes. Sometimes, the enemies might use them for the blackmailing purposes and this can be very dangerous. However, in 90% cases, these records are being used for healthy purposes and hence, there are no issues at that that these records should not be given to all the people. However, only required information should be given.

The State of Virginia Divorce Records

Divorce records are vital records. They play a certain role in the legal and historical records everywhere. Thus, everyone can benefit from such records. The state of Virginia, just like any other states, also keeps a file on these said records.

The Division of Vital Records is the best place to look for Virginia Divorce Records which are kept in a statewide level for an easier search and access. It is with the existence of the Freedom of Information Act that makes divorce records part of public records and are therefore open for the public to access. The searching process should also be easy and convenient because Virginia has it on a statewide level.

Searching for this Divorce Records Virginia can be done by visiting your local government offices. As long as proper procedures are followed, youll surely have whatever it is that you need right into your hands. Apart from following certain procedures, theres also a need for you to fill up a form and input important information like the couples first and last name, the time the divorce took place as well as the location, your full name and your email address.

The State of Virginia Divorce Records can be obtained in three ways based on the Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics. To mention, these are through mail, walk-in, and the use of VitalChek Network. The main difference of these ways is on the length of their waiting time in which the second way is said to be the fastest among the three ways. You must also know that the third option requires your credit card for the payment of the required charge.

The public is also entitled to have access to Divorce Court Records which will be available at any local courthouses where the divorce court proceedings happened. Court records contain a lot of important information that you can learn from. Such information includes the personal information of the couple, their parents and childrens, when and where the divorce happened, and why the divorce took place. It will also show the filing number, decree, asset division and settlement, restraining orders, children custody and other related information.

It is possible to encounter problems as you go through searching for these divorce court records because county courthouses are not at all linked. That is why to avoid getting lost, you have to know the place where the divorce took place so that you will know where to start from searching. Court records have two versions-free and paid. For a thorough and detailed information, your best option is to turn to the paid one.

Guatemala and Enforcement of Foreign Judgements

Executive Summary What we are going to discuss here is whether or not a creditor can come to Guatemala with a judgment from a foreign (Non Guatemala) court and enforce it or make it collectible in Guatemala. We will look at the complications involved and the chances of success which are miniscule at best. I would like to point out that this is a topic not covered by our competition. There are collection law firms that discuss international judgement collection but they are trying to sell their services. In spite of this I have never seen one collection law firm getting enthusiastic about collecting foreign judgements. It is best done through a treaty which Guatemala does not have with any country. We will discuss the matter in depth below.
What is a Judgement A judgement is a decision from a court based on a trial or it could be based on a summary judgment where there was not trial held because the odds of success for the defendant were so small the court just goes ahead and railroads him. Sometimes this happens because the defendant can not afford a legal defense. This is prevalent in the USA. In this discourse we are addressing judgments for money damages. A judgement can have other aspects to it like an eviction proceeding ordering one to leave a house. It does not matter if it is a local court or a national court for this discourse. This is because Guatemala has no treaties for enforcement of foreign judgments but more on this later. The court would need to be contained in a country that Guatemala has diplomatic relations with. Guatemala also insists that the country of the judgement allows Guatemala judgements to be enforced in that country.
What is Not a Judgement A tax lien is not a judgment. Tax liens can come from local or national governments. There is normally no trial preceding a tax lien. There was no judge, no jury, no due process, no right to defend yourself, no attorney present for the defendant, no right to examine your accuser, no chance of jury nullification, etc. This is a government administrative procedure that is not enforceable offshore in other countries. A tax lien would need to be reduced to a judgement by filing a lawsuit in a court of appropriate jurisdiction in the home country. It would be like any other lawsuit. The defendant would have the right to present a defense and have a jury trail. Such a judgement would also then be dischargeable in an ordinary bankruptcy case. Tax liens are practically never converted into a judgement for these reasons and of course the expense involved, time delay to go to trail and so forth.
Guatemala Has No Treaty for the Enforcement of Foreign Judgements It is good that Guatemala has no such treaty. If a treaty like this was present the process of collecting a foreign judgment would be simplified. The judgment itself would be sufficient evidence to proceed with collection. With Guatemala, foreign judgements are anything but a cost effective easy thing to collect on.
Guatemala Corporations and Foreign Judgements Before we get into the ins and outs of the nightmares associated with collecting foreign judgments in Guatemala lets look at the initial problem a judgment creditor would face. We always have our clients use corporations for asset protection. This applies to banking, real estate, cars etc. We prefer to start with fresh corporations formed in the jurisdiction as long as they are anonymous bearer share corporations. Guatemala has very anonymous bearer share corporations. The names of the owners of the corporation do not appear in any public registry, database and the government does not know who owns the corporation. In places like the USA where the legal system has run amuck you will hear a lot of talk concerning piercing the corporate veil. This piercing the corporate veil tactic is nasty and effective in the USA. Try it in Guatemala and you will fail and have one angry judge to deal with who will be less than appreciative of your attempts to import sleazy legal tactics from the USA into his or her courtroom. The corporate veil is not going to be pierced for foreign cvil judgement collection matters. So how does the creditor attack real estate or a bank account owned by a corporation in Guatemala? He doesn’t! You are the owner of the corporation but he does not know that and cannot prove that. Ownership of Guatemala corporations is not in any public registry or database. Going to court and saying well the judgment debtor wired funds from his home country bank account to a bank account owned by this corporation, is not going to prove a single thing in Guatemala regarding corporate ownership. The judgment debtor may have invested in this corporation, he may have bought real estate from this corporation or bought a boat, a plane a car, etc. It does not prove any ownership. The judgement creditor is not going to be able to get into any Guatemala banking records using a foreign judgment as grounds. Guatemala has serious bank secrecy. You must understand that in Guatemala a corporation is a free standing judicial person (artificial person) that has its own assets and liabilities. Your liabilities are not the liabilities of the corporation. This means personal debts do not transfer over to a corporation.
Fraudulent Conveyance The catchall used to attack offshore bank accounts is fraudulent conveyance. A fraudulent conveyance references activity where funds or assets were removed from a jurisdiction to prevent a creditor from recovering the debt. The term can also apply to transferring title of real estate or a car to another to keep it from being attached by a creditor. Panama allows a creditor to pursue a fraudulent conveyance action based on a foreign judgment and this even applies to their foundations. As a comparison Guatemala is not a fraudulent conveyance friendly jurisdiction. Such cases are seldom ever heard of in Guatemala because the chances of success are extremely slight. The plaintiff would need to show that the transfer was specifically designed or intended to remove the assets from the reach of the creditor. If the defendant could show this was not the case then there is no fraudulent conveyance. The money could have been moved to say a Guatemala corporation to pay for services, goods, make an investment, buy a residence, invest in real estate, buy a boat, and so forth. Please bear in mind that in Guatemala the creditor is in the dark. He cannot just subpoena bank records like in other countries. He has no idea who owns the corporation. There are a lot of just about insurmountable obstacles in the path the creditor has to follow. This is why we do not really see these cases in Guatemala.
Foreign Judgement Enforcement Complications in Guatemala There are a lot of conditions that need to be met to enforce a judgment in Guatemala from another country.
Default judgments are not enforceable in Guatemala. The defendant must have been served personally. This means a live process server gave them the legal papers. If the service was by mail, by courier, by publication it invalidates the entire lawsuit and judgement as far as Guatemala is concerned. Dropping the papers on the doorstep or taping them to the door is not going to work. This right off the top eliminates a large amount of judgements.
The judgment must be final in that there is no more room for appeals. This is usually going to mean a few months in most cases.
The court that issued the judgment has to have had proper jurisdiction over the matter. Frivolous cases filed in foreign jurisdictions with incorrect venue or authority are not going to be enforceable. The debtor can always argue that the jurisdiction or authority the court asserted is incorrect. This can then make it a triable issue of fact in the Guatemala courts. The defendant would try to get the plaintiff to retry the entire case in Guatemala if he could not find another way to dispose of the matter. To do this means two sets of lawyers for the plaintiff, one in Guatemala and one from the foreign country. Think big money. Remember that Guatemala has no treaties for the enforcement of foreign judgments. This opens up the playing field to counter attack the plaintiff attempting to collect the judgement. When there is a treaty the judgment itself stands as admissible evidence and the grounds for objecting are most limited.
There is no enforcement if no such claim would be possible under Guatemala law. Guatemala will refuse to enforce the foreign money judgment if the claim on which the foreign judgment is based could not have been brought in Guatemala. The foreign case has to be consistent with Guatemala law. Guatemala law is not as crazy as USA, UK law. If you were sued for sending out faxes that were unsolicited, this judgment would be void in Guatemala since they have no such law in Guatemala. Many USA lawsuits are for civil violations that are absent from Guatemala law and thus not enforceable in Guatemala. This means the foreign attorney will have to retain foreign counsel to review the case and see it is consistent with Guatemala law. Can be expensive. He may have to have the entire matter translated into Spanish by a certified translator at a cost of $10 to $15 a page. Some cases are hundreds of pages. Then the Guatemala lawyer has to read the case which means billable hours. He will ask questions to the foreign attorney so now we get into double billable hours. In any event to enter the judgment into the Guatemala court system in an effort to collect there would need to be a translation of the judgment into Spanish. Then when the debtor started making objections the entire case file would most likely need to be translated into Spanish.
If the judgment was for contempt of court it makes the judgment not valid in Guatemala. This sort of judgment would not be collectible in Guatemala.
The judgment has to not be for default. In other words if you failed to respond to a foreign court action and were in domicile in Guatemala and they got a summary judgment that would not be a valid judgment.
More Foreign Judgment Collection Obstacles in Guatemala The creditor wishing to collect on a foreign judgment in Guatemala is basically on a financial mission, to collect funds. His path is like walking through a minefield. He can hit a number of unexpected or hidden tactics presented by the debtor that will make a financial recovery very unlikely.
First, we have to look at the appeals process open to the defendant. These are the things a creditor will be advised to consider before proceeding with an expensive and time consuming foreign judgment matter in Guatemala. Please bear in mind the defendant (debtor) can appeal any negative decision from a lower court two ways. The defendant can appeal to the Supreme Court claiming the law was not followed correctly applying any of the above noted objections, or all of them. He can also claim procedures were not followed correctly. He can claim the case is not consistent with Guatemala law. He can attack the way he was served. There are many things he can do. He can even file a counter claim against the creditor. The other appeals option is to appeal to the special Constitutional Courts Guatemala has to just decide constitutional issues. How hard would it be to argue that the defendant had some constitutional rights violated in the process somewhere.
If all that fails after years of waiting for the process to work its way through the courts, then there is the bankruptcy option. Guatemala has a complex bankruptcy court system that could be utilized for shelter from creditors. Using these appellate processes is going to run up the bill for the plaintiff substantially. Without the appeals system, the time required for cases can run up to the 3-5 year mark easily. Then add in appeals. and the bankruptcy for even more years. The plaintiff could conceivably go broke or die of old age before the appeals process runs out. They might recover nothing especially if a bankruptcy is used. The plaintiff might never prevail. The expenses involved could be more than the amount of the judgment. By the time all the appeals are used, the time limit for the judgment may have expired (7-10 years usually) and then the case could be dismissed because the judgment is not longer valid, thus not enforceable. And on and on it goes. Such collection efforts are indeed rarely ever seen in Guatemala.
Summary If you have read this you are looking for a secure offshore asset protection jurisdiction and structure. We have several excellent options. Please bear in mind the perfect jurisdiction and structure does not exist. There is always going to be a give and take scenario. We have managed to isolate a few excellent options but there is no perfect solution that meets the needs of everyone. We do try though!

Why Divorce Is So Unfair for Children

Whatever the reason for a couple to divorce, the effects on children can be harmful.

Children love their parents equally and whatever the reasons for a husband and wife to want to end their marriage and go their separate ways, it can not be forgotten how this will impact and affect the children.

Children are hardly ever to blame for a marriage failing. And often they are the innocent victims who lives are completely changed because their parents have decided to split up.

If a marriage is ending because a one of the couple has been unfaithful, the children had no part in this and yet are expected to take sides and willingly accept that their parents will no longer be living together and that the family unit has broken up. Add to this the unimaginable thought of the children having to live with one parent and seeing the other parent on alternate weekends, and you can see how this would badly affect most children especially those who are very small and don’t understand what is going on around them.

Many parents fail to appreciate and understand that their children continue to be affected by this family breakup for many years to come.

Whilst the husband and wife have adapted to being separate, and possibly might have met other partners as time goes on, children still cling on to the hope that their parents might one day get back together again.

They don’t want to see a stranger in their father’s place or another woman with their father. These things can be disruptive especially for young minds and can cause resentment and loathing in children towards the parent who has wronged as well as to the new partners of both parents.

Studies also show that the effects of divorce on young children tend to lead to lower marks at school, mood swings and disruption in the lives of those children whose parents had divorced.

How Couples Could Benefit From Mediation

So often we hear about how high the rate of divorce is in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Divorces can be emotional, time consuming, and expensive affairs. More than ever, couples are being encouraged to use mediation services in order to solve their difficulties, in order to avoid all the difficulties of a divorce.

When emotions are running high and couples don’t know how they can possibly make things work anymore, divorce can seem like the only way out. Communication is the key to all good relationships and when communication breaks down, relationships tend to break down too. Mediation services are great because they teach you how to talk to each other about how you’re feeling in an open and honest fashion.

It can be difficult to talk about our feelings, even to those who are closest to us. Having difficult conversations can be uncomfortable, and sometimes we need a helping hand. Despite the fact we are arguing with our partner, we generally don’t like upsetting other people.

Conflicts between loved ones can be particularly difficult to handle because relationships are so steeped in history. Mediation is future focused, so an independent mediator will attempt to move the relationship forwards rather than allowing the couple to dwell on past events. Bringing up old arguments and past mistakes does not resolve anything and is no basis for a healthy relationship.

This is one fundamental way in which mediation and divorce differ. Divorce courts do not accept ‘irreconcilable differences’ as a valid reason for couples wanting to split up. They instead insist that fault is blamed on one of the parties involved. This is perhaps why mediation is becoming such a popular option for arguing couples. Divorce is not as simple as one person being wrong and the other right; it is infinitely more complicated than that.

If children are involved, then mediation could be useful for a couple as well. If talking about your differences doesn’t solve them, it could at least bring some civility to proceedings. If you still decide to divorce then it is best to do so in a civil manner, so the children are not left feeling anymore confused and upset than they need to be. Deciding on how often children are to be seen and who stays with who is another big issue when it comes to divorce, and it is better if this can be settled outside of the divorce courts in order to avoid as much distress as is possible.

Ultimately, divorce sometimes is the only option for some couples. However, it is certainly better to do everything in your power to attempt to reconcile the relationship outside of the court room to begin with.

Jessica Kirk Professional Lawyer

Dedication to the practice of family law has helped lawyer Jessica Kirk build a solid reputation as a divorce lawyer. Her compassionate and knowledgeable approach to the issues of divorce has helped her clients successfully resolve many of the associated issues, such as child custody, alimony, and division of property. She has represented both men and women in divorce cases and along with her partners at The Crittenden Law Firm in Birmingham, Alabama she uses her experience and the firms dedication to resolving family issues to provide expert service.

As a graduate of the University of Alabama Law School and a member of such organizations as the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, lawyer Jessica Kirk approaches her work with dedication and integrity. Her divorce clients receive not only expert legal representation, but solid guidance through every step of the process.

About the University of Alabama Law School:

Throughout history, the laws for combating piracy became a key building block for todays international legal system. Alabama Laws Dean Kenneth C. Randall surveys the unique, historical relationship between piracy and international law during NPRs special report, “An Old Scourge, Piracy, Is New Again,” on Monday, May 4.

Since 1994, Alabama has had a law in place requiring all convicted felons to submit a DNA sample. But that could soon change. A bill currently making its way through the state legislature would allow for a DNA sample to be taken from everyone arrested and charged with a felony or sexual offense after October 2010. David Patton, assistant professor and director of Alabama Laws Criminal Defense Clinic, speaks with Alabama Public Radio about potential pitfalls should this bill become law in the Wednesday, May 6 story, “Making It Legal To Take DNA From Felony Arrestees In Ala.”

The Career Services Office reported 97.4% of Alabama Laws 2008 graduates as employed within 9 months of graduation. This is the 13th consecutive year that the Law School has had its employment rate above 95%. Also, the number of employers who visited Alabamas campus last Fall to conduct jobs interviews with our law students increased by over 20%.

Podcasts are now available from the February 27, 2009 Law, Knowledge & Imagination symposium titled, “Speech and Silence in American Law.” Cambridge University Press will be publishing the papers in this symposium as well as those in UA Laws previous forum held in October 2008 titled, “Sovereignty, Emergency and Legality.”

The Chief Justice of the United States, the Honorable John G. Roberts, has committed to present UA Laws Albritton Lecture in 2010. Justice Clarence Thomas will give this same lecture in fall 2009, which will mark the second time he has spoken to Alabamas law students. The Law School was honored to welcome Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, of the Supreme Court of Canada, to Tuscaloosa on March 9 to present the spring 2009 Albritton Lecture.

Throughout history, the laws for combating piracy became a key building block for todays international legal system. Alabama Laws Dean Kenneth C. Randall surveys the unique, historical relationship between piracy and international law during NPRs special report, “An Old Scourge, Piracy, Is New Again,” on Monday, May 4.

Since 1994, Alabama has had a law in place requiring all convicted felons to submit a DNA sample. But that could soon change. A bill currently making its way through the state legislature would allow for a DNA sample to be taken from everyone arrested and charged with a felony or sexual offense after October 2010. David Patton, assistant professor and director of Alabama Laws Criminal Defense Clinic, speaks with Alabama Public Radio about potential pitfalls should this bill become law in the Wednesday, May 6 story, “Making It Legal To Take DNA From Felony Arrestees In Ala.”

Hernia patch lawsuits

Hernia Patch Litigation Court Will Hear Claims by Patients With Non-Recalled Hernia Mesh and Patch Devices Manufactured by Bard, Inc. and Davol, Inc.

The court assigned to oversee the nationwide hernia patch and mesh lawsuits will hear claims of patients with both recalled and non-recalled hernia mesh and patch devices.
Over the last few years a number of patients have brought hernia mesh patch lawsuits against C.R. Bard, Inc., and Davol, Inc. alleging that their hernia mesh patch devices were defective and caused injuries. A large number of the claims were brought after an FDA hernia patch recall including claims based on defects in hernia mesh patches non-recalled hernia mesh patch devices.

Hernia patch lawsuits from across the United States have now been consolidated into a single court for all pretrial proceedings. In a recent ruling the court clarified the scope of the consolidated proceedings to include both recalled and non-recalled devices.

The federal Multi-District Litigation court has announced that it will hear hernia mesh and patch lawsuits involving both recalled and non-recalled devices manufactured by C.R. Bard, Inc., and Davol, Inc., including the following;
-All nine (9) models of Bard ComposiX Kugel Hernia Patches (Product Codes 0010201 through 0010209);
-All other Davol hernia patches with PET rings, including the Bard Kugel Hernia Patch; Bard VentraleX Hernia Patch; Bard CK Parastomal Patch; and Bard Modified Kugel Patch; and
-Other Davol hernia meshes composed of layers of polypropylene and ePTFE, including the Bard Composix E/X Mesh.

Hernia patch lawyers at The Johnson Law Firm, a national law firm representing a large number of patients who have been injured by the recalled Bard Composix Kugel Hernia Mesh Patch are evaluating claims by patients with non-recalled hernia patch and mesh products manufactured by Davol, Inc. and C. R. Bard, Inc. Hernia patch lawsuit information, hernia patch class action information, hernia patch recall information and claims evaluations are available at no cost to affected patients at and toll free at 1-866-374-0338.

Mediation in Divorce and Family Law Cases

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

In many states, mediation has gone from being an option to help resolve issues to a mandatory part of the court proceedings. That is particularly true in cases that involve divorce or custody disputes.

Mediation is called an alternative dispute resolution process. In short it provides you with an alternative to Court to create your own agreements and craft your own orders without submitting those matters to the Judge. This is often a preferred way to resolve disputes in a divorce. The alternative is to proceed to Court and allow a Judge, a complete stranger to you and your children, to hear a few short arguments and testimony and decide your fate. Often such orders may seem like pounding round pegs into square holes with out understanding fully the individual circumstances of the parties. Clearly that is in no one’s best interest and often leads to the long roller coaster ride through court with each party filing new motions year in and year out to change the rulings that the Judge has made.

By contrast, mediation teaches the parties to communicate and to work through their issues productively. In the process, the parties to work with a neutral expert to resolve their disputes in a way that works for them. A mediator is also known as a qualified neutral.

The mediator may be a lawyer, a therapist, a religious leader or other qualified individual. As part of the mediation process, the mediator will not provide either party with legal advice and, instead, will work with the parties on their communication skills to understand the other parties position.

Often mediators will encourage the parties to incorporate into the proceedings other experts to help them in the decision making process,. This may involve the use of appraisers to value a home, accountants and investment counselors to address financial aspects, or a parenting consultant to work through custody and parenting issues. By using one neutral expert, the parties may save thousand of dollars that would be spent for each party to hire their own expert only to remain at an impasse with different results.

WHAT TYPES OF DISPUTES CAN BE RESOLVED THRU MEDIATION?

Mediation can be a useful tool for almost any issue that you encounter in family court. Even the most acrimonious divorces can benefit from mediation by helping the parties resolve some, if not all of their disputes, thereby simplifying the issues to be resolved through the court process.

Mediation may resolve:

disputes between divorcing parties including custody issues, spousal maintenance and property issues;

paternity issues;

restraining order issues.

WHY SHOULD I MEDIATE?

1.Mediation is available any time both parties are willing to engage in the process, even if they are already involved in a contested court case;

2.Mediation is LESS EXPENSIVE than going to court with both parties to the dispute sharing the cost;

The Real World of Alimony (Spousal Maintenance) Under Washington State Divorce Law

Washington Divorce law views spousal maintenance on the basis of what is called the “economic partnership model”. However, it usually focuses on the length of the marriage. If the marriage is less than five years you very rarely get maintenance.

The only time I see maintenance/alimony awarded in marriages less than five years is where one party is unemployed or would end up on the street if their partner just left them. Even in those cases, the awarded at temporary orders reads something like: “The [husband/wife] shall pay to the wife maintenance in an amount of $500 for six months or until the wife secures full-time employment. If full-time employment has not been found in 6 months the [husband/wife] may petition the court for an extension but only for good cause shown.” I have written orders like that many many times. At the temporary orders stage the judge or commissioner makes his or her ruling and says “Counsel, Write up the Orders”. Tradition has it that the primarily prevailing party draws them up; although sometimes a lawyer much older than you will assume that he or she will do the honors. We then often times have to go back in and argue over them. But that is usually if the attorneys either don’t know each other or one is inexperienced. As lawyers we also sit in the back of the courtroom and wait for our case to be called. During that time we talk with other attorneys about their cases or watch how the judges and commissioners decide other cases in Family Court.

On the other hand marriages longer than 20 years almost always do involve some form of maintenance, or “evening out” of the income and assets over time. The goal of the Court in such long-term marriages is mainly to maintain the partys financial standing at the same level for a considerable time after the marriage.

Spousal maintenance in Washington has traditionally been defined by an oft-quoted (and legally cited) bar journal article by Judge Windsor. It has been cited in many Washington divorce Supreme court cases.

Recently, there has been discussion regarding a new metaphor. A recent (2006) Washington State Bar Journal article discusses the subject. Maintenance can be highly discretionary and the cases I have dealt with on appeal have been difficult to overturn. That is basically the general consensus: the Judge or Commissioner must have really, really screwed up before they overturn it. Yes, you are thinking the right thing: it is very important to win at the lower levels. Don’t sit back and comfort yourself that “If they make the wrong decision I can just appeal.” This is not tax or corporate law. There are fewer analytical rules to follow. And this is alimony in the real world.