Family Law & Divorce Attorneys in Seattle, WA
At Carey & Lillevik, we understand the complexities inherent in families and can help you through your challenge with effective, compassionate representation. Our attorneys are experienced in cases involving:
- Divorce and dissolution
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance
- Modifications to divorce settlements
- Parenting plans and residential schedules
- Collaborative law
- Protection orders
- Third-party custody
- Same-sex partnerships
- Unmarried couples
Our divorcey attorneys value diversity and embraces an expansive definition of family.
Divorce and Dissolution
Divorce can be a painful and difficult process, both emotionally and financially. Court orders in divorce cases can have far-reaching and sometimes permanent effects in the lives of the people involved. Judges make decisions about the most sensitive and personal aspects of family life: the children, child support, and the division of assets and debts.
Carey & Lillevik recognize that each divorce is unique and respect our clients’ goals and interests. While some cases require significant litigation, many others settle favorably through negotiation. If you are facing a divorce, our attorneys can guide you thoughtfully through the process and provide effective representation.
Child Support and Modifications
Child support law in Washington State is theoretically friendly to the needs of children. The law requires that the parents pay expenses and the costs of living. Before a divorce is finalized, the court must determine child support. The level of support must be fair to all parties involved.
Because families are dynamic, it may become necessary to adjust support, custody, and parenting plan orders to meet your family’s specific needs. Parenting plans must be made in a court order through a modification process.
If you need to:
- Establish a support order
- Enforce an existing order
- Modify an existing order
- Respond to child-support modification action
Carey & Lillevik can help. Our attorneys are experienced in child support litigation, and have represented numerous clients in modification, contempt, and divorce proceedings.
Parenting Plans and Residential Schedules
Legal separation and divorce can create a chaotic situation when children are involved. For married couples, Washington State requires the completion of a parenting plan before granting a divorce. For non-married couples, the court requires a residential schedule. A parenting plan or residential schedule details custody and visitation. The plan or schedule also outlines directives for making important decisions, such as holiday schedules and transportation arrangements. These plans and schedules can be as unique as the families they involve. It’s critical to engage an attorney who will skillfully:
- Articulate your needs
- Negotiate for your objectives
- Litigate for your rights in the plan or schedule, if necessary
If you are faced with the creation of a parenting plan or residential schedule, don’t struggle through it alone. As seasoned litigators and creative negotiators, Carey & Lillevik recognize the uniqueness in each parenting situation and plan.
Adoption is an exciting time of change and growth. But there is much more involved than adding a new member to your family. An attorney can facilitate the legal process, so you can focus on the joys of welcoming your new family member.
Many families use an adoption agency to add to their family. If this is your choice, the agency will require a homestudy and investigations that prove you are a fit parent. You then file a petition for adoption with the court. An adoption lawyer can prepare and process your adoption paperwork so that your day in court is one of celebration and smooth transition
Termination of Parental Rights in Adoption
Sometimes, a potential adoptive parent wants to adopt a child who already has a legal parent or parents. Typically, this occurs in step-parent and foster parent adoptions. In such cases, the parent must terminate their rights before the adoption can take place. If a parent agrees to relinquish their parental rights the adoption process can progress smoothly. Without an agreement to relinquish parental rights, the process becomes difficult and complicated.
Carey & Lillevik has experience in adoption and in termination/relinquishment of parental rights. We appreciate that adoption involves highly personal decisions and potentially complex legal issues. We are prepared to provide you with capable and effective counsel during all stages of adoption proceedings.
Collaborative law is a method of resolving family law cases out of court. This method avoids painful adversarial proceedings associated with litigation. Collaborative law seeks to find common ground through compromise, consideration, and free flow of information. In an ideal collaborative situation, parties and their attorneys work together as a team to resolve disputes.
There are many benefits to employing collaborative law, but it is not for everyone. The parties must understand the significant risks and compromises inherent in this method. Attorneys at Carey & Lillevik are trained and experienced in collaborative law and can help you decide if it is right for you.
Some couples prefer a temporary period of legal separation prior to a divorce. In Washington State, a legal separation is similar to a divorce. Legal separations typically result in court orders that direct parenting plans, distribution of property and debt, and issues of financial support. The most significant difference between legal separation and divorce is that ultimately the couple remains legally married, but with court orders in place.
If you are considering a legal separation, a Carey & Lillevik attorney can help you determine whether it’s appropriate for your situation and advocate for orders that favor your needs.
A person other than a parent may seek custody or visitation with a child. However, courts defer to parents, and recognize their fundamental constitutional rights to parent their own children.
In third-party custody cases, it is possible to serve the best interests of the child by granting custody to a non-parent. In these cases, the parents are deemed unfit or neither of the parents have physical custody of the child. The standard required for obtaining third-party custody is difficult to meet.
If you are involved with a third-party custody case, we encourage you to consult with a Carey & Lillevik attorney. Our attorneys have handled hundreds of such matters and have the experience and knowledge to effectively advise you and advocate in the best interest of the child.
Parenting Plans & Residential Schedules
Separation and divorce can create a chaotic situation when children are involved. Washington State requires the completion of a parenting plan before a court will grant a divorce. The court requires a residential schedule for non-married couples. A parenting plan or residential schedule covers custody and visitation as well as directives on which parent makes important decisions regarding decision-making, holiday schedules, and transportation arrangements. Parenting plans may be as unique as the families involved in them, which is why it is important to have an attorney who will skillfully articulate your needs, negotiate for your goals and, if necessary, litigate for your rights in the parenting plan.
At Carey & Lillevik, we are seasoned litigators and negotiators. We understand that each parenting situation is unique and that each case requires unique solutions in the parenting plan. If you are facing the creation of a parenting plan as part of a divorce or legal separation, we encourage you not to forge into it alone. Our attorneys at Carey & Lillevik are thoughtful, creative and experienced in this area.
If you are in immediate danger, call the police.
At Carey & Lillevik, we appreciate the sensitive life circumstances that lead to filing a protection order. If you are seeking a protection order, or if someone has filed for a protection order against you, retain an attorney who will effectively articulate your position to the court. In cases that involve domestic violence, it is highly recommended that both parties seek legal representation to resolve the conflict and facilitate a more effective solution.
Washington State constantly changes the laws regarding the rights and responsibilities of people in same-sex relationships. In establishing a legal relationship with a partner, fluency in this bourgeoning area of the law is critical. At Carey & Lillevik, we help couples create a life together and plan for the unexpected. This can encompass issues such as:
- Property division
- Estate planning
We can help during a relationship and after one has ended. We will ensure that you, your partner, and your interests receive the respect you deserve.
Founding partners Ann Carey and Linda Lillevik are proud members of Q-Law, which is the GLBT bar association in Washington, as well as the Greater Seattle Business Association, which is a GLBT business association in King County, Washington.
In Washington, couples need not marry to have similar legal rights and responsibilities to each other as married couples, regardless of the gender of the couple. When a court finds that a stable, marital-like relationship exists, it is determined to be a meretricious relationship. To determine this, the court considers:
- Duration and purpose of the relationship
- Pooling of resources and services for joint projects
- Intent of each person.
If the relationship is found to be meretricious, the court will take divide property and debt, guided by the community property laws of Washington State.
Carey & Lillevik can help you define and protect yourself and your relationship. We can also determine whether your relationship is a meretricious relationship and assist you in retaining your rights to property.