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Bruce K Pruitt-Hamm
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Bruce Pruitt-Hamm’s Answers

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  • In a relocation case, if a parenting plan is 50/50, is there still a presumption in favor of the relocating parent?

    In a relocation case, if a parenting plan is 50/50, is there still a presumption in favor of the relocating parent?

    Bruce’s Answer

    This is a controversial question to answer from a legal standpoint. The Child Relocation Act (RCW 26.09.405 et. seq.) requires a "parent with whom the child resides the majority of the time" to give notice before relocating with the child, and conveys a rebuttable presumption that such a relocaton serves the best interests of the child and should be allowed. Thus, some courts actually count up the hours or overnights that a parent has physical custody of the child in a year (or longer) to see if either has a "majority of the time". If neither, then the courts may refer to legislative history, where they can find that the sponsor of the CRA commented: "“Under [a 50/50 parenting schedule], the notice requirements apply to both parents and the presumption to neither.” 56th Legislature, ESHB 2884 (February 14, 2000) (colloquy of Representatives Constantine, Carrell, Carlson and Kastama). One case I recall used the section naming who the custodial parent was to "break a tie" to determine who was the primary residential parent. Generally, the closer your plan is to a true 50/50, the less likely the judge will give the presumption, if found, much weight. The decision on CRA cases is almost always very specific and the criteria in RCW 26.09.520 should be addressed fully, specifically and individually. Do this for your first hearing on temporary orders under RCW 26.09.510 because the temporary order is often a de facto decision for many parents who can't afford the time or cost to wait for a full trial date on their CRA case. I hope this helps.

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  • What legal action can be taken?

    My cousin is USN, deployed, & is being cheated on. His wife is openly having an affair from states away & has completely drained their joint account to the point that creditors are calling his chain of command to collect. They have one child toget...

    Bruce’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Aside from getting her consent to separate their finances (Property Agreement), which sounds unlikely, he should hire a lawyer to file either a petition for legal separation or divorce and to move for "ex parte" (one party, urgent/emergent) relief to restrain her from further squandering of marital assets and also move for temporary orders that keep his finances from being ruined by his wife. The prior answer suggested he may get some help from a JAG officer and if he can, he should; but a local attorney in the county of his residence is probably going to be necessary as well.

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  • 50/50 parenting plan with $0 child support. The transfer payment of $0 includes medical premium. Do I owe?

    In the paragraph citing costs not included in transfer payment it sayspaparent's split medical premium 50/50. Do I owe?

    Bruce’s Answer

    It depends; probably yes, you would owe 50% of health care costs, even though it appears the premium for the children's health care insurance has been included in the transfer payment by including those costs on line 10 of the Child Support Worksheet. Assuming certain facts that are missing will determine the answer. Medical costs for children are handled in 2 ways: 1) "on the worksheet" at line 10 for those average monthly costs, typically (but not exclusively) health insurance premiums; and 2) "off the worksheet" in Sec. 3.19, which follows RCW 26.19.080(2) directive that "health care costs" shall be shared proportional to incomes. Thus, if line 6 of your child support worksheet shows you and the other parent have the same 50% proportion, then you'll owe 50% of any health care cost not covered by the line 10/CSW. If line 10 of the CSW meant to cover all costs, then you shouldn't have to pay more, if you're the obligee parent. In other words, it can get a little complicated.

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  • Can non custodial parent withhold information? or is this not important enough?

    No communication between non custodial/custodial parent. Every time custodial parent asks a question about the visit between non custodial and child they respond with anger or just don't respond. I never ask silly questions - but ones pertaining t...

    Bruce’s Answer

    I have a couple suggestions.first, you should understand that court process is a matter of comparing what should happen based on orders from the court or under state law, with what is actually happening.most parenting plan forums will not include an explicit provision that imposes a duty upon the parents to share essential information about the child with each other. However, it could be argued this is implicit. My first suggestion is that you review your temporary parenting plan and if there is no such explicit duty then draft such a rule for the temporary parenting plan under Section six or under Section 3.1 3and make a motion to the court to have that clause added. Second, once that clause is there and the information is not shared then you can bring a motion for contempt to enforce the explicit provision. (dictated on my phone. please pardon the typos.)

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  • Should child support payments be paid from marital funds?

    My husband and I are divorcing. He paid child support payments and also some court costs from our marital funds, his paycheck. Should that have come from his separate property? Am I entitled to recover any of those funds?

    Bruce’s Answer

    Child support should be paid from the earnings of a divorcing spouse or ex spouse. Those earnings are presumptively community property until there is a defacto separation, or the marriage is defunct, which presumptively occurs when one spouse files for divorce or legal separation.

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  • Parenting Plan not being followed, child being withheld from mother.

    Long story short, I am writing for my wife who is in a terrible parenting plan...which neither party has followed 100%. However, the issue is the father is now withholding the child from my wife and not allowing access to the child. I underst...

    Bruce’s Answer

    A basic description of how the contempt process works and other helpful resources may be found at: http://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/search?q=contempt. While Mr. Hawkins answer is correct about inability to modify a parenting plan without following the procedures of RCW 26.09.260 and 270, if the parties can reach an agreement (in wiriting) to modify their parenting plan it can be submitted as an "agree order" and provides other benefits even if not turned into a court order. I do suggest you obtain a consult with a family law attorney for further guidance. Good luck.

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  • If a party makes misrepresentation to the court in a modification case

    can the court restrict that parents visitation with child? Shouldn't there be other remedies rather than require restrictions and supervision?

    Bruce’s Answer

    The court has authority to restrict vistation based on RCW 26.09.191, which it must consider in any custody decision before turning to the other factors for consideration under RCW 26.09.187 and 184. Misrepresentation to the court is not one of the factors listed explicitly in section .191. However, if the court believes that a party has lied to the court, especially about something that is vital to the child's safety and welfare, then it is likely the court will craft a parenting plan that guards against the risk of dishonesty and deceit by a parent. In my experience, many litigants think the other side is clearly lying and should be punished for perjury; while the courts are highly reluctant to find "lying" or perjury. Besides, perjury is only a crime which the prosecutor can choose to prosecute, not a private party. See RCW 9A.72. Hope this helps you.

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  • How many people are too many to have at a CPS/Police Investigation interview?

    My husband and I have had a CPS allegation made against us on our 2 year old foster daughter. We were just wondering if it was wrong to have my mother, our pastor, one of our best friends and her son (which is a Military Police Officer) is too mu...

    Bruce’s Answer

    I served as the attorney for CPS for 10 years in Eastern Washington from 1996-2006, but I didn't directly supervise CPS interviews. Thus, my advice may be inappropriate for Seattle CPS protocol currently. I suggest you call the CPS CW and ask her/him. It's not clear to me that you're describing an interview or perhaps a staffing or even a Family Team Meeting; so the answer may be dependent on what type of exchange you're invited to. I'm also a bit puzzled since it appears you are licensed foster parents and thus I wonder if you are being investigated for possible license suspension- which is done by Dept. of Licensing, not CPS. I suggest you arrange for an attorney to consult with further. I also suggest you exercise your rights under RCW 13.50.100 for CPS records on you (redacted). It will take the Public Disclosure Officer some time to do the redacting, so don't expect to get the records right away.

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  • In WA state, what is legal date of separation or divorce?

    If a married couple start living in separate residences on June 1st, but do not file for a legal separation, and on November 1st of the same year they decide to file for a divorce, which date is used by the WA state courts as their divorce date, f...

    Bruce’s Answer

    Generally, the court can choose the date at which they find the marriage to be "defunct" and to effectively value and characterize assets and debts for purposes of distribution in a dissolution of marriage case at any time from when the parties physically separate (usually meaning that they no longer reside together) up until the date of trial. The total length of marriage is determined from the date of marriage to the date of entry of a decree of divorce, also known as a decree of dissolution of marriage. Sadly, the answer to this question is not straightforward and depends on the context and the purpose for which this date is significant.

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  • Can a mother take your child out of the country without my permission repeatley

    what can i do to stop it

    Bruce’s Answer

    you asked two questions for which I will provide 3 answers. first you ask if a single parent can take a child outside the country without the consent of the other party. the first answer is: legally, no. The second answer is: as a practical matter, there are many ways to get around the rules similar to evading speeding limits. your second question is what can you do about it. the best answer that I have for you on this is to Google the Secretary of State children's office regarding international child abduction and look for their resources for parents.
    resources for parents

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