Northwest of Seattle, Ballard is a Washington neighborhood that’s popular among young families. The city experienced a large boom in the early 2000’s as seen in early 2007 reports. These reports indicated that in a five-block radius 2,500 new households were added to the neighborhood. These new homes were just portion of Ballard’s development plans. The economic boost attracted a lot of young people looking to settle down. This has caused a large influx of families to move into Ballard, meaning more family law disputes for Ballard residents.

Family law issues including dissolution of marriage or filing a restraining/protective order can be incredibly stressful. Often all parties are affected during proceedings and experience a great deal of inner turmoil. These cases can be long, time-consuming, and force you to make difficult decisions for issues you’re not fully informed on.

When you want to get a job done right, you call a professional. The same can be said for a family law case. You are much more likely to achieve an agreeable outcome with an experienced Ballard family law attorney on your side. A Ballard divorce and family law lawyer can assess your legal options and guide you through the process step-by step. They can assist with negotiations, call upon experts, and litigate on your behalf in court if necessary.

Ballard Family Law Attorney, Washington | King County Divorce Lawyer

If you’re looking for a family law attorney in Ballard WA, call the legal team at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of family law disputes including dissolution of marriage, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, establishing or invalidating paternity, modifying support orders, among other common family law issues. We can assess the situation and advise you of all your legal options.

Our team can then spearhead a plan to tackle your family law dispute using a negotiation approach. However, if needed, our lawyers are prepared to utilize our vast litigation skills on your behalf in court. Call Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson today to set up your first consultation in Ballard and the greater Seattle metropolitan area including TacomaBellevueEverett, Edmonds, Kent, Renton, Shoreline, and Snohomish.

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Common Family Law Disputes in Ballard, WA

Family law disputes are handled at the family law division of the King County Superior Court. These disputes include dissolution of marriage, adoption, child abuse or neglect cases, protection order and restraining order filings, and more. The following are some typical family law issues our attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson take on.

  • Divorce – Relationships sometimes just don’t work and that includes marriages. The state of Washington allows residents to divorce at any time and aren’t required to file on any grounds as it’s a “no fault” state. The complexity of a divorce will depend on if the parties agree on serious issues including debt allocation, asset division, and child custody. If both spouses are unable to compromise, the divorce is considered to be contested. That means you may have to go to trial if you and your spouse cannot find a resolution for important issues.
  • Modifications of Child/Spousal Support – The court may grant one spouse a type of court ordered support either for shared children or to close the income gap between parties. Support orders can be modified if a substantial change in circumstances occurred such as a loss in income.
  • Paternity – For most children, paternity is established at birth. However, that doesn’t mean it can be established later. The father, mother, child, or even the state can file a motion to establish paternity using a DNA test. The same can be said to invalidate paternity if the father suspects the child is not related to them.
  • Restraining Orders – A restraining order can be filed to limit one party during divorce proceedings. The restraining order limits one party with a court order that will require them to compromise to a plan while divorce or family law proceedings are pending. For example, one spouse may file a restraining order against the other to not take their shared minor children out of the state/county lines without informing the other parent.
  • Protective Orders – Many often confuse protective orders and restraining orders, but they are actually two different processes with distinct outcomes. Protection orders are for victims of emotional, mental, or physical abuse from a domestic partner or family member. The order protects the petitioner by prohibiting the respondent from various actions including contacting the petitioner or being near their home/work.
  • Contempt Motions – Violating a civil court order could result in serious consequences. The petitioner of the court order can file a motion of contempt against the respondent for violating the terms of the family law court order. If you’ve had a contempt motion filed against you, you can challenge it at a hearing scheduled by the court. However, if the judge determines you’re in contempt of court, then you could be sentenced to jail and to pay an expensive fine.
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How to File for Divorce in Ballard, Washington

Although divorce can be incredibly complicated, the process itself is pretty straight forward if unchallenged. If you want to file for divorce in Ballard WA, then you must complete all necessary paperwork first. Some of these documents will include the petition for dissolution, a confidential information form, a vital statistics form, and a summons form if your spouse never responds. If you have shared children, then expect to fill out additional paperwork including a parenting plan and possible child support forms.

Once you’ve filled out the forms, you’ll need to file them with the King County clerk. You’ll be required to pay a fee of around $250 and you can waive it if you meet certain income qualifications. Ask the clerk to make two copies for you, that way you have one for your files and one to serve to your ex-spouse.

The next step is to serve your spouse. You can either serve your spouse by mail, through a process server, or by publication. Most will serve their spouse through the mail, but if that isn’t possible then you can serve them by publication as a last resort. How your spouse responds usually will reveal how contentious the divorce is going to be. If they challenge the petition, it’s likely lawyers will start getting involved.

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Does Washington State Have Common Law Marriage?

Washington state doesn’t allow for common law marriages no matter how long a relationship is. The state does recognize common-law marriages created in other states, but if you want the same rights and benefits as a married couple you must enter into a legal marriage or partnership. However, the state does allow long-term committed relationships to have a limited number of the same rights allotted to married couples.

Washington has adopted a doctrine of “Committed Intimate Relationships” through judicial case law. Essentially, this means the Washington courts recognize that when couples live together in a manner similar to marriage without the legal status, they are still accumulating property that would be considered “community property.” Therefore, both partners have a legal claim to that property.

To divide property, assets, and debts, you’ll need to prove you and your ex were in a committed intimate relationship. Some factors the courts may use to determine that include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The duration of the relationship
  • How long you cohabitated together
  • Was it exclusive?
  • If property or assets were bought together
  • If you had joint bank accounts or credit cards
  • Did you name your partner in your will or health insurance?

The same goes for any shared children you may have. Even if you’re not the biological parent of the child, you may still have parental rights established under the de facto parent doctrine. You can petition to be a parent under the doctrine if you meet certain factors including:

  • You lived with the child as a regular family member for a significant period
  • You engaged in consistent caretaking of the child
  • You held the child out as your child
  • You bonded and have a dependent parental relationship with the child
  • The child’s other parent fostered or supported this relationship
  • Continuing the relationship is in the best interest of the child
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Ballard Family Court resources

King County Family Court – Visit the official website for the Superior Court of King County if you’re interested in learning more about their family court division. Access the site to learn more about the rules of the family court, instructions for forms, how to file a family law motion, and contact information and directions to the courthouse.

King County Clerk – The court clerk is incredibly important and acts as a registrar and historian for King County courts. When filing a family law motion, you will need to visit the clerk either virtually or in-person. Access the site to learn more about filing documents online, how to request a copy of a record, and other information you may need.

WA Family Law Handbook –Family law cases can be complicated and involve a lot of moving parts. Access the Family Law Handbook provided by the Washington courts to learn more about the rules of the court. Access the stie to learn how they handle child abuse cases, how to end a marriage, how to establish paternity, and other common family law disputes.

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Ballard Divorce Resources

Instructions for Family Law Forms – Visit the official website for King County to look at their instructions for family law forms you may need to fill out. Find answers to questions you may have, definitions for terms you might not be familiar with, and resources you may need.

Custody & Visitation Resources – Visit the official website for the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to peruse through their custody and visitation resources for residents in Ballard and Seattle. Access the site to learn more about their resources such as the Family Law Court Appointed Special Advocate program, and the Supervised Visitation Networks.

Ballard Divorce Support Group – Visit the official website for Psychology Today to look at the divorce support group in Ballard offered by Divorce Care. Divorce Care is an organization dedicated to helping those struggling with divorce regain their power. Access the site to learn more about the program, benefits it provides, and how you can find like-minded people going through the same motions as you.

Washington DSHS Division of Child Support – Visit the official website for the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to learn about their child support division. Access the site to find resources on child support, how to file for child support, how to pay for child support online, find a form you may need, and learn how to enforce your child support order.

Long Term Effects Divorce Has on Children – Visit the official website for Mediate, an online source for information regarding mediation in the United States. Access the site to read an article by Natalie Maximets regarding the effect of divorce on children. Learn how divorce may psychologically affect a child, what can influence those effects, and how to avoid them.

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Ballard Divorce Lawyer, WA | Family Law Firm in Washington State

Our attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson assist Ballard residents with all types of family law matters including divorce, support modifications, orders of contempt, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and any other family law disputes. Our team can utilize our decades of combined experience to fight for your interests and family. Call us today and we can answer any questions you may have about your divorce or other family law dispute.

Set up your first consultation with Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson by calling our offices at (206) 712-2756. Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts clients throughout all parts of King County and Snohomish County, Washington.

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