The Law Offices of Roe & Greene, PLLC
Vancouver, Washington Family Law Attorneys

Divorce/Legal Separation
› Property Division
• Real Estate in Divorce
• Business Valuation in Divorce
• Retirement Assets in Divorce
• Tracing and Reimbursement
• Fiduciary Duties in Divorce
› Spousal Suppot

› Child Support

• College Support
› Child Custody & Visitation

• Parenting Plans
• Paternity
• Modifications
• Parental Relocation
• Non-Parent Custody of Children
› Child Support Enforcement
• Contempt of Court
• Garnishing Wages and Bank
› Accounts

Prenuptial Agreements
› Cohabitation Agreements
› Mediation

Our office is conveniently located at:

400 East Mill Plain Blvd
Suite 205
Vancouver, Washington 98660

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Family Law Overview


People often ask the question: What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?  There are four basic differences between a divorce and legal separation: The basic differences are:

  1. In the event of a divorce, to collect Social Security earned under your spouse, you must be married at least 10 years at the time you are divorced.  If the parties have been married less than 10 years this would prevent one spouse from qualifying to receive the other spouse’s social security benefits.
  2.  The parties do not believe in divorce due to their religious beliefs.
  3. One spouse needs medical insurance coverage provided by the other spouse.  In order to maintain on your spouses medical insurance policy some insurance policies require the parties to be married. If your marriage is dissolved then you may qualify for COBRA coverage. COBRA coverage is only allowed for a limited number of months.  For some employer, who do not have a sufficient number of employees, COBRA coverage may not be available even if you are legally separated or divorced.
  4. In a legal separation you remain married to your spouse, however all of your assets and debts are divided, spousal maintenance addressed and provisions concerning your children and their support are also addressed.
    SPOUSAL SUPPORT/MAINTENANCE:  Spousal support is not automatically granted in the state of Washington.  The court will review each party’s financial declaration that outlines each party’s monthly living expenses.  In addition to a review of financial declaration and supporting financial records, the court may order support in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct. To assist the court in making a decision regarding spousal support the court is required to consider all relevant factors including the factors specified by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 26.09.090.

These factors include but are not limited to:

(a) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including separate or community property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party;

(b) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to his or her skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;

(c) The standard of living established during the marriage or domestic partnership;

(d) The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership;

(e) The age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance; and

(f) The ability of the spouse or domestic partner from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance.


Child support is based upon the incomes of the parties, after certain deductions are allowed. If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court will generally impute an income to that parent.  The order in which the court determines the amount of income to impute to a parent is specified by the court as follows:

The court shall impute income to a parent when the parent is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily underemployed.  The court shall determine whether the parent is voluntarily underemployed or voluntarily unemployed based upon that parent’s work history, education, health and age or any other relevant factors.  A court shall not impute income to a parent who is gainfully employed on a full-time basis, unless the court finds that the parent is voluntarily underemployed and finds that the parent is purposely underemployed to reduce the parent’s child support obligation.  Income shall not be imputed for an unemployable parent.  Income shall not be imputed to a parent to the extent the parent is unemployed or significantly underemployed due to the parent’s efforts to comply with court-ordered reunification efforts under chapter 13.34 RCW or under a voluntary placement agreement with an agency supervising the child. In the absence of records of a parent’s actual earnings, the court shall impute a parent’s income in the following order of priority:

(a)  Full-time earnings at the current rate of pay;
(b)  Full-time earnings at the historical rate of pay based on reliable information, such as employment security department data;
(c)  Full-time earnings at a past rate of pay where information is incomplete or sporadic;
(d)  Full-time earnings at minimum wage in the jurisdiction where the parent resides if the parent has a recent history of minimum wage earnings, is recently coming off public assistance, general assistance-unemployable, supplemental security income, or disability, has recently been released from incarceration, or is a high school student;
(e)  Median net monthly income of year-round full-time workers as derived from the United States bureau of census, current population reports, or such replacement report as published by the bureau of census.

The minimum amount of child support ordered is $50 per month per child. 

In determining a parent’s net income, the court will deduct federal and state taxes, mandatory pension payments, mandatory union or professional dues, state industrial insurance premiums, court ordered maintenance to the extent actually paid, up to $5000 per year in voluntary retirement contributions and normal business expense and self-employment taxes for self employed persons.
There are several basis for the court to deviate from the Washington State child support schedule including but not limited to shared residential time, increased / decreased expenses due to a shared residential schedule, children from other relationships, and a number of additional factors.

If you believe there is a basis for the court to deviate from the standard support obligation, contact Roe & Greene, PLLC today to determine your rights.


If you are the parent with whom the children reside the majority of the time in the state of Washington at a minimum you are required to provide the other parent with advance written notice of your intent to “Relocate” or “Move away with the child(ren).”  This notice is required by Washington state law.  Depending on how far you intend to move the notice provisions are different.   If you are contemplating relocating or moving away with your children or have just received notice that the other party is intending to move away, you should immediately consult with one of the experienced lawyers at Roe & Greene, PLLC.


After a “Final Order Parenting Plan” has been entered with the court, if circumstances substantially change you a parent can request the court to Modify the parenting in certain circumstances.  There are “major modifications” these modifications change where the children reside a majority of the time.  There are also “minor modifications.” A minor modification changes the parenting plan by up to twenty-four (24) overnights (+/-) during the year.  If the parenting plan for your child(ren) needs to be modified, consult with one of the experienced family law attorneys at Roe & Greene, PLLC (360) 574-1600.


The effect of a parent’s military duties potentially impacting parenting functions shall not, by itself, be a substantial change of circumstances justifying a permanent modification of a prior decree or plan.  A temporary change to the parenting plan will most likely take place while the parent is in the military and unable to provide parenting functions.

Child support may be modified at any time if there is a substantially changed circumstance.  A modification may be filed after one year or more after the final (or modified) Order of Child Support was entered with the court without showing of substantially changed circumstance for economic hardship, change in child’s age, or an extension of support due to being in high school.

After 24 months, one does not need to show a substantial change in circumstance.  You may file a modification due to changes in the parties’ incomes or the child support worksheet tables.