The Newcomer’s Guide to Domestic Partnerships and Same-Sex Marriages in Washington State

Laws in Washington provide a clear framework that allows two adults, regardless of gender, the right to enjoy the benefits of partnership or marriage throughout the state. In statutes, rules and laws relating to same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships in Washington, the words “husband” and “wife” are considered to be gender-neutral terms.

If you’ve recently moved to Washington from another state and have questions about domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage laws, this guide is a good place to find basic answers:

Your Out-of-State Marriage or Partnership 

Generally, as long as your domestic partnership or same-sex marriage was made legitimate by the laws of another state, it’s recognized as valid in Washington. As a member of a partnership or marriage formed in another state, you and your spouse or partner are entitled to all of the benefits offered to heterosexual couples in partnerships and marriages in this state. You are also allowed to marry each other again in Washington.

There are exceptions to this recognition. If you and/or your spouse were not at least 17 years of age, and you did not have a court order allowing the marriage, it will not be recognized as valid. If your marriage would be void in Washington for any other reason, such as a kin relationship or an existing marriage to another person, your marriage will not be recognized.

It’s a good idea to officially marry your spouse within a year of becoming a resident of Washington to maintain your out-of-state union’s status as a legally recognized marriage. Alternately, enter a state-recognized domestic partnership within that time frame to secure all of the legal benefits of partnership. Madison Law Firm, PPLC, can answer any questions you have about these and other civil contracts.

It’s Easy to Wed in Washington

The state of Washington recognizes a marriage as a civil contract between two people. In order to meet the qualifications to be married, both of these people must be at least 18 years of age, and both must be capable of entering into a civil contract.

The two people cannot be related by blood any closer than second cousins. Neither of the people can be a child, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandchild, niece, or nephew of the other person.

You don’t have to recite any specific vows to each other in order to make your marriage official in Washington. All you must do is stand before two witnesses and a religious or judicial official and declare that you take each other to be spouses.

Religious Freedom Laws Limit Same-Sex Participation

While the state recognizes and establishes same-sex unions, Washington also recognizes that religious institutions and organizations have the right to disagree with same-sex civil contracts. Whether or not you agree with a given church’s or faith-based organization’s opinions on same-sex marriage, the state gives these entities the right to deny you services and privileges.

A religious organization may turn you away from marriage counseling services, marriage workshops, religious retreats, and educational courses. They can deny you the right to hold your wedding in their facilities, and they can refuse to perform your marriage ceremony.

You have no cause of action against a religious official or institution if they deny you access to accommodations, goods, and services. No state or local agency can penalize a religious organization for refusing to serve same-sex couples.

If you or your partner are 62 years of age or older, there is a special domestic partnership allowed in Washington. This partnership addresses the problems older couples face with social security and other retirement issues.

To find out more about this special category of civil contracts, or to get help with a same-sex marriage, adoption, divorce or other action, contact our office to schedule a consultation. We stay on top of family and marriage laws in Washington state and do all we can to protect and assert your rights.

4 Tips for Handling Custody of Your Dog During a Divorce

When families expand with the joyful additions of children and pets, few couples consider whether they will one day part ways. Breaking up the family unit is likely the last thing on their minds. The rush to build their lives together can blind two people to the reality that a large percentage of marriages end in divorce, and the harsh realities of a divorce can hit all members of the family very hard.

If you find yourself not only facing a divorce, but also a potential custody battle for your dog, follow these tips for the best ways to handle the fight for custody of your canine companion.

  1. Maintain Physical Possession of the Dog

If your custody case winds up before a judge, you may find that possession plays a huge part in who gets custody of your dog. Since an animal is typically viewed as property, having the dog in your care indicates your ownership over your pet. If you allow your soon-to-be ex-spouse to take possession of the dog, he or she may attain rightful ownership in court.

No matter how much your ex may try to convince you to give him or her possession of an animal, stick to what you want. When you retain possession of the dog, you are not required to justify that decision to your ex-partner. Be consistent, or it may work against you in court.

  1. Prioritize the Preferences of the Children

If one parent gets primary custody of the children, it may seem unfair that they are also granted custody of the dog. However, that is often how dog custody is decided when families split up. When looking at what is in the best interests of the kids, it is undeniable that allowing things to stay as stable as possible should be a priority.

Keeping a beloved dog by their side can be helpful for children as they cope with the “new normal” after a divorce. While you should never fight over custody of the pet in front of your kids, including them in discussions about where the dog should live can be helpful, especially if you know your ex is willing to listen to what the children want.

Letting the kids decide custody of a dog improves their confidence, but you and your ex will need to cooperate with each other.

  1. Document Any Problematic Behavior Towards Your Dog

Although nearly every divorcing pair has high hopes of maintaining a friendly relationship, most people find that they never fully knew their former spouses until they knew what it was like to divorce them. If you suspect that your soon-to-be ex-partner is mistreating your dog out of anger or spite for you, take action to protect your pet.

Taking photos of your dog after a suspected incident is one way that you can protect your canine companion and ensue that your former partner does not end up with custody.  If you have any evidence of animal abuse, it’s okay to report your ex. Unfortunately, divorce can change people, so don’t hesitate to do what you must to protect you, your kids, or your dog. On the other side of that, you may also choose to document all the positive things that you and your kids do with your dog.

  1. Call a Family Law Attorney for Help

Don’t take a tough situation lying down. If you are not sure what your next move should be to ultimately get custody of your canine companion, contact a family law attorney. After you retain the services of a family law lawyer, you can ensure that you are doing the most you can to increase your odds of retaining custody of your dog.

Finally, if you have any questions about pet or child custody, contact Roger Madison at the Madison Law Firm PLLC. Your initial consultation is free, and it is offered without pressure or obligations.

3 Tips for Making Your Divorce Amicable

The moment your spouse asks for a divorce is one you will never forget. If things haven’t been working well for some time, you may feel a sense of relief. Or, you may feel surprised, and therefore, deeply angry and depressed. Some people experience these seemingly conflicting emotions—relief, anger, and sadness—at once.

Depending on your temperament, you might be ready and willing to fight your soon-to-be-ex for every cent. You might not care if you remain friends or treat each other well.

However, for many people, an ex-partner is someone you will continue to interact with after the divorce. You’ll see them at the grocery store, at your kids’ soccer games, and at major family outings, like weddings and college graduations. Therefore, it’s necessary to make your legal uncoupling as peaceful as possible. Below, we’ve provided three tips to help you keep your divorce amicable.

  1. Decide Not to Place Blame for the Divorce

Couples have a myriad of reasons for getting divorced. Rarely, if ever, is it solely one party’s fault. Despite this reality, the divorcing couple’s emotions often flare up, and fingers get pointed. They bring up events from the past and relive old, negative emotions. They place blame, and, in doing so, fail to recognize their own part in how the marriage turned out.

Now, instead of having calm, civil discussions about their upcoming divorce, one (or both) parties are trying to make things more difficult than they need to be.

You can choose to avoid this by consciously deciding not to blame your partner for the divorce and kindly asking your partner to do the same. If your soon-to-be ex-spouse disagrees, you will need to hold firm about not blaming and stay diplomatic in your exchanges with him or her.

  1. See a Therapist or Another Mental Health Professional to Learn Coping Techniques

As we’ve mentioned above, divorces stir up a lot of emotions. They can be truly life-changing, even traumatic, experiences. As this process begins, you may feel like you’re in mourning. You also may experience a distracting amount of resentment.

Don’t allow these powerful emotions to unsettle you. Be proactive, and find a therapist or another mental health professional that specializes in helping people through divorces. Mental health professionals can teach you critical coping techniques that will help you sort through and let go of your emotions surrounding the divorce.

  1. Let an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Handle the Division of Assets

We’ve all heard this story before. A friend of a friend tried to handle their divorce without a lawyer. They tried to negotiate with their ex, and the former couple couldn’t agree on the division of assets. They wanted to maintain a good relationship with one another, and they chose to use a professional mediator. Still, they couldn’t agree on who should get what. By the time they realized mediation wasn’t working, these once-amicable ex-spouses were no longer treating each other kindly or respectfully.

Avoid this situation by hiring an experienced attorney to negotiate on your behalf. It’s a divorce lawyer’s job to achieve the best possible settlement for the client and to understand the divorce laws in your state. The Madison Law Firm team knows the ins and outs of divorce in Washington State. A divorce attorney also looks at your divorce objectively and counsels you about what you can expect. He or she can handle negotiations calmly when things get heated.

If you’ve filed for divorce recently, you may be experiencing some of the challenges we’ve discussed. Review our well-researched list of tips on keeping your divorce proceedings amicable, and prevent your relationship with your ex from unraveling into anger and blame. It’s important, during these challenging times, to have a reliable lawyer to walk you through your divorce. To meet with an experienced divorce lawyer, contact Madison Law Firm in Olympia, WA, today.

Should You Opt for an Agency Adoption or a Private Adoption?

When it comes to adoption, your highest priority is making the process simple and beneficial for all involved-especially for your future child. However, it’s not always clear whether an adoption performed with the help of an agency or an independent private adoption offers the better path.

While each situation is different, understanding how these two options compare can give you a starting place. In this blog, we summarize the process of each.

Agency Adoption

When you adopt through an agency, that agency serves as the connection between you and prospective birth mothers. The agency provides birth mothers with counseling and the profiles of interested families. The agency provides you with a guide through the process.

You have the option to choose between a private agency or a public agency. Private agencies often handle both domestic and international adoptions, while your public agency may only work with local children.


Generally, an agency adoption provides more oversight and structure than a private adoption. This type of adoption has the following advantages:

  • Extensive parent training-When you work with an adoption agency, you typically receive 10 or more hours of training about the adoption process. This training is intended to prepare you to raise a child of a different race than yours, identify and address any health issues caused by unhealthy pregnancies, and so on.
  • High safety standards-Agencies work hard to protect the rights, interests, and safety of all involved parties. As an adoptive family, you will likely need to be fingerprinted, have a background check performed, and be approved before you can take custody of your adopted child.
  • Option to close the adoption-If you choose to do so, you can close your adoption. This option means that you do not have to disclose your name or meet the birth family.

If you’re ready to be matched directly to a child, find an agency that fits your needs to get started.

Private Adoption

During a private adoption, your attorney works directly with birth mothers or birth families to find the right fit. When allowed by state law, your attorney advertises to birth families and may use networking to match you with a child. Your attorney can also guide you through the process of finding a birth mother on your own.

In addition to your attorney, you may also work with a social worker of your choosing or a facilitator.
Private adoptions tend to be local, but they are can also include children in other states.


Where an agency adoption gives you more structure, a private adoption gives you more control. Private adoption has the following advantages:

  • Fewer rigid requirements-In a private adoption, the requirements depend on your desires and your attorney’s recommendations. For example, a basic background check is required, but an extensive background check is not. You may choose to provide the birth family with more information at your discretion and your attorney’s advisement.
  • Less time spent waiting-Unlike agency adoptions, private adoptions do not generally involve waiting lists. Instead, your profile can be shown to families as soon as it’s fully prepared.
  • Possibility of relationship with birth mother-In a private adoption, you decide how much of a relationship you want to have with your child’s birth mother and, by extension, how much of a relationship your child will have with her.

If you want to pursue a private adoption, start by finding an experienced attorney.


Whether you choose an agency adoption or a private one, it’s wise to retain an attorney to help with the process. Your attorney can navigate the agency’s process or facilitate meetings with prospective birth mothers. Additionally, your attorney helps ensure that your adoption complies with all local, state, and federal laws so there aren’t any complications later on.

Use this comparison to decide how you can best connect with your future child.

What Happens If My Ex-Spouse Won’t Pay Child Support?

You rely on your ex-spouse to help you support your children financially. So when your ex-spouse suddenly stops paying child support, it’s a serious blow for your entire family.

You might assume your ex-spouse is delinquent and simply doesn’t want to pay. But this isn’t the only reason to shirk on payments.

Here are four reasons why your ex-spouse may have stopped paying child support and how you can legally overcome these challenges.

1. Your Ex-Spouse Moved

If your ex-spouse moved to another state, he or she might think he or she is no longer required to pay child support. Fortunately, this belief is incorrect. According to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the court can force your ex-spouse to pay child support, even if he or she lives in another state.

Determine whether your state’s court still has jurisdiction over your ex-spouse. If it doesn’t, it can forward the child support order to the court in your ex-spouse’s new state.

If you don’t know where your ex-spouse moved, state agencies can help you locate him or her.

2. Your Ex-Spouse Lost His or Her Job

If your ex-spouse is unemployed, he or she doesn’t currently have the resources to pay child support payments. But he or she can’t just quit paying without informing the court. Your ex-spouse may petition the court to either reduce the child support payment amount or put a hold on the payments.

Petitioning right away is in your ex-spouse’s best interest. He or she must continue to pay child support payments until he or she petitions the court. Plus, your ex-spouse is still responsible to pay overdue child support payments.

Unfortunately, this situation leaves your family without a child support payment temporarily. But you may be entitled to certain government benefits.

3. Your Ex-Spouse Confuses Visitation Rights With Child Support Payments

Maybe your ex-spouse thinks that because his or her visitation rights were suspended, he or she no longer needs to pay child support. But visitation rights are completely separate from child support. Even if your ex-spouse cannot see his or her children, he or she is still required to pay child support.

Your ex-spouse can petition the court to restore his or her visitation rights, but must continue to pay child support regardless of the court’s decision on visitation.

4. Your Ex-Spouse Refuses to Pay

Sometimes, an ex-spouse shirks his or her responsibilities and refuses to pay child support. In this case, talk to the court about enforcing the child support order. A prosecuting attorney or a private attorney can impose consequences on your ex-spouse. These consequences may include:

  • Garnishing wages (requiring your ex-spouse’s employer to withhold a portion of his or her earnings)
  • Withholding federal tax returns
  • Seizing your ex-spouse’s property
  • Suspending your ex-spouse’s business or occupational license
  • Canceling your ex-spouse’s driver’s license
  • Incarceration

Whether you use the prosecuting attorney or a private attorney, the court uses the money obtained from garnishing wages, withholding federal tax returns, or seizing property to pay child support costs.

If your ex-spouse still fails to pay, the court can send him or her to jail, but this is a last resort. After all, if your ex-spouse is in jail, he or she isn’t able to earn money for child support payments. However, even if your ex-spouse is in jail, he or she usually qualify for work release during work days.


Your children rely on child support payments for their food, housing, and education. If your ex-spouse isn’t paying what he or she owes, you’ll benefit from the support a family law lawyer can offer. We can look at your specific case and provide legal counsel and solutions. We can also work with the court to enforce your ex-spouse’s child support order.

Call Madison Law Firm, PLLC today for a consultation.

Gaining Custody of Your Grandchild in Washington State

As a grandparent, you want the best for your grandchild. When your son or daughter struggles to care for your grandchild, you feel an obligation to step in.

Gaining custody of your grandchild is no easy task and involves a series of legal steps. We detail more about this process below.

Reasons to Gain Custody of Your Grandchild

First, make sure you have a valid reason to seek custody. Even though you’re a close relative, the courts still prefer to grant custody to the child’s parents.

It’s reasonable to seek custody if your grandchild’s parents:

  • Are abusive
  • Are mentally ill
  • Are addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • Are in jail
  • Have abandoned their child
  • Prefer to have you raise their child

When the court terminates one parent’s parental rights, it prefers to keep the other parent as the sole legal guardian. However, if both parents are incapable of caring for the child, the court must appoint someone else as guardian. It prefers to appoint close relatives, such as grandparents, before turning to strangers. In fact, grandparents are usually the court’s first choice.

Types of Custody Arrangements for Grandparents

There are several types of custody arrangements available to grandparents.

Temporary Custody

If the child’s parents agree for you to temporarily take care of their child, you could be granted temporary custody.

However, immediate temporary custody is where the court believes that the child will be in danger if he or she stays with the parents. The court can place the child in your care until the temporary custody hearing. At the temporary custody hearing, the court can appoint you as temporary guardian of the child until the case concludes.

Yet another option for temporary custody is known as kinship foster care. It is either arranged privately between you and the parents or arranged by a child welfare agency. Kinship foster care means you don’t have legal custody-so you cannot make any major decisions about your grandchild’s care without state approval. However, you are entitled to the same financial help other foster parents receive.

Legal Custody

Custody gives you all parental rights, such as the ability to make medical decisions for your grandchild. In order for you to gain custody of your grandchild, an investigation will occur to determine your capability. They may perform a criminal background check or visit your home and prepare a home study report. The court must terminate the parents’ parental rights before granting you legal permanent custody.



If there’s no possibility your grandchild’s parents will be able to care for your grandchild again, you can seek legal adoption. You’ll have permanent responsibility for your grandchild’s care, and the child’s parents relinquish all legal parenting rights. You must file an adoption application with the court. If your grandchild is 12 or older, he or she must agree to the adoption.

How a Lawyer Helps

The process of gaining custody is time-intensive and complex, so you’ll greatly benefit from a lawyer’s advice and guidance. A lawyer can investigate your situation and determine the best course of action. He or she can act as your advocate to help you obtain an ideal outcome.

If you hope to gain custody of your grandchild, call Madison Law Firm for a consultation.

5 Guidelines to Help Your Newly Adopted Child Adjust

When you adopt a child, regardless of his or her age, you should expect an adjustment period once the child reaches your home. Even infants require some time to fall into new routines and feel comfortable with their new families.

In this blog, we provide five tips so you can help your newly adopted child feel like he or she truly belongs in your home.

1. Avoid Overwhelming Situations Initially

Moving from one home to another is a big change, even if you do it with a family you’ve had your whole life. Moving into a home where your new parents and siblings already feel comfortable can become overwhelming.

Avoid putting additional stress on a newly adopted child for at least a few weeks. Keep celebrations simple and create guest lists composed primarily of people your child already knows. Do not purchase excessive gifts, offer huge lists of household rules, or plan a trip too close to your child’s move-in date.

Many of these fun or essential elements of your family life will come naturally and gradually as your child begins to feel more comfortable.

2. Be Patient With Your Child’s Habits and Emotions

Many children up for adoption, especially those living in children’s homes or foster homes, develop habits that make them feel safer. Sometimes, these habits may seem strange or undesirable to you.

However, if the behavior is harmless, like keeping a comfort item, you should allow your child to continue at least until he or she settles in. If your child exhibits behavioral problems, approach the situation calmly and gradually.

Also encourage your child to express how he or she feels about the transition. Even if your child feels happy to be home, he or she might miss previous foster parents or feel anxious about attending a new school. These emotions are normal and should be expressed.

3. Offer Frequent Low-Pressure Bonding Opportunities

To help your child adjust effectively, provide bonding opportunities often. Many of these opportunities will come naturally, such as cooking a meal together, sharing a conversation during a car ride, or preparing for a normal day.

Avoid high-pressure bonding opportunities, such as parties, during the initial adjustment period. This step helps you and your child get to know each other in the context of daily life rather than special events.

4. Provide Surroundings That are Familiar and Comfortable

If possible, provide your child with elements that feel familiar and comfortable. You may want to take pictures of your child’s previous living situation to get an idea of what he or she is used to. Another option is to encourage your child to bring items from a previous home, such as books or toys.

If your child is old enough to offer personal opinions on his or her living situation, ask before making changes to his or her room. This provides your child with a feeling of some control over the situation.

5. Steer Clear of Unforgiving Consequences

If you have other children in your home, they likely already know the rules and the potential consequences of misbehavior.

Avoid time-outs and other consequences that feel unforgiving, especially in response to breaking rules your child did not know. Time-outs can make your child feel isolated and diminish any trust you’ve already built.


In addition to the guidelines listed above, do your best to minimize disruptions to your child’s adjustment period. When you can, meet with your legal representation without your child. If possible, get all paperwork and meetings out of the way before you child moves into your home. These steps will limit the reminders of the recent adoption, allowing your child to truly feel at home.

Follow these guidelines to help you and your child transition into a whole and happy family unit.

Adopting? 4 Reasons to Hire a Family Law Attorney for the Process

Adoption offers an exciting opportunity to couples or individuals who might otherwise never be able to add children to their loving family unit. If you’re approaching the prospect of adopting, you’ve likely spent a lot of time researching, thinking, and consulting with various professionals.

By this point, you may feel like an expert, or you may still feel completely out of your depth. Regardless, you should hire a family law attorney before you begin the process to ensure that you navigate the difficult legal issues of adoption as smoothly as possible.

In this blog, we discuss four vital services that your family law attorney provides during this process.

1. Ensured Legal Compliance

As with many family law situations, adoption evokes a lot of strong emotions. As new parents, you may find yourself caught up in the moment and miss important legal steps. Leave these measures to your attorney.

For example, if you choose to work directly with your child’s birth mother, your lawyer ensures that all parties complete the required paperwork. These documents can include comprehensive consent forms from the birth mother and birth father when needed, compliance paperwork from the hospital, and a host of other legal contracts.

Having a lawyer provide, oversee, and review your paperwork is one of the best ways to avoid legal hiccups that could delay or halt the adoption process.

2. Legal Protection

Unless you have completed multiple adoptions before this one and you work in the field, you likely don’t have the background to identify possible adoption pitfalls before you encounter them. Your attorney has the resources and experience to help you avoid untrustworthy agencies, coercive situations, and proceedings which can draw out the adoptions process indefinitely.

Whether you choose to adopt through an agency or in an independent process, you need the legal protection an attorney provides.

3. Mediation

In addition to protection from unpleasant circumstances, an attorney provides ideal communication between you and the other involved parties. A family law attorney mediates between the adopting parents and the agency or birth mother.

Mediation becomes particularly important should any legal or circumstantial issues arise. For example, if the birth mother begins to rethink her decision, the child experiences any serious medical issues, or another issue arises, your lawyer handles the situation. Having an experienced family law attorney in your corner ensures that all parties stay informed and your agreements stay up to date with the current situation.

4. Tailored Agreements

In most legal situations, you can find standard documents to fill out, and adoption is no different. However, contracts drawn up by an attorney acquainted with your situation have far greater value than a traditional agreement.

These contracts drawn up by your lawyer play a particularly large role if you plan to adopt independent of an agency. You may have an agreement to pay for the birth mother’s pregnancy expenses, but what happens if she rethinks her decision? That’s where your contractual agreement comes in. Your lawyer can create a
document which stipulates which circumstances invalidate your agreement to cover specific expenses.

Tailor-made agreements protect you and your future child from the messiness that can occur during the adoptions process.


Before you begin the adoptions process, reach out to your trusted family law attorney. Ideally, you should discuss your situation and desires with your attorney before you ever contact an agency or prospective birth mother. Your attorney can provide all of the services listed above, as well as recommendations based on your family situation, desires, and personal history.

As you expand your family, trust your attorney to simplify the process. For more information on the services offered by our family law firm, visit our blog section.

When and How to Seek a Domestic Violence Protection Order

If you’ve been abused by a spouse, partner, or another relative or member of your household, you should seek help right away. In order to prevent further harm to yourself and your children, ask the court for a domestic violence protection order.

A domestic violence protection order ensures the perpetrator will stay away from you. If he or she breaks the order, he or she will face arrest.

What Qualifies as Domestic Violence?

You might wonder if what someone is doing to you is considered domestic violence. Domestic violence applies to more than just physical harm, although it certainly includes physical harm. Domestic violence also includes:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Attempting or verbally threatening to harm you physically or sexually
  • Stalking you when you leave the house
  • Performing violent actions, such as breaking furniture
  • Preventing you from leaving the house

If you’re a victim of any of the above, it is in your best interest to receive a domestic violence protection order.

What Is a Domestic Violence Protection Order?

A domestic violence protection order is a legal order obtained from your local court that tells the perpetrator not to harm you.

The domestic violence protection order can also:

  • Give you temporary custody of your children.
  • Order the perpetrator not to enter your home or to leave your shared home.
  • Prevent the perpetrator from coming near you or attempting to contact you.
  • Order the perpetrator to attend counseling.
  • Allow you to keep your personal items.

You cannot obtain an official domestic violence protection order until you and the perpetrator meet with a judge, which might not happen for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, the court can offer you a temporary order that’s effective until you can meet with the judge.

Other Types of Protection Orders

 A domestic violence protection order might not apply in every situation. There are several other types of protection orders in Washington State.

  • No-Contact Order: If your spouse or partner is being tried for a crime, the court may issue a no-contact order to protect you from him or her during the trial period.
  • Restraining Order: A restraining order is issued as part of a family law case, such as a
    divorce case. It covers more legal ground than a domestic violence protection order. It can address issues such as spousal support, child support, and property rights.
  • Civil Anti-Harassment Order: This applies if you are being harassed or threatened by a nonfamily member or non-partner, such as a neighbor, coworker, or even a stranger.

If you’re unsure which type of protection order to pursue, talk with a lawyer.

What Happens at the Hearing?

At the hearing for a permanent domestic violence protection order, both you and the perpetrator will discuss the case with a judge. You will want to bring evidence, such as photos, police reports, and medical reports. You should also bring any witnesses.

The judge will ask why you are seeking a protection order. They may also ask about how and when the perpetrator has abused you.

You don’t have to hire a lawyer to get a domestic violence protection order. However, a lawyer can help you prepare for your hearing. You’ll also benefit from working with a lawyer if you’re planning to seek other legal actions against your family member, such as divorce. Also, if you know your family member has hired a lawyer, you may wish to hire one as well.

If you’re the victim of domestic violence, don’t suffer alone. The law can help you find safety for you and your family. Seek out a domestic violence protection order to protect yourself from the abuser.

8 Signs You Are Prepared to Adopt

You have considered adoption for some time now, but you, your spouse, your partner, or your children have not felt ready. They may have emotional qualms or financial restrictions. They may also feel that they do not know how to accept and nurture a new family member.

However, once you have overcome each of your family’s obstacles, you can peruse the checklist below to decide if you are ready to take the next step. If you find that you are prepared to adopt, call a family law attorney in your area to begin the process.

1. You Want to Adopt a New Family Member

The most important sign that you have become emotionally prepared for adoption is that you want to adopt. However, make sure that you want to adopt for the right reasons. You should do it because you genuinely want to nurture and care for another human being. You must not adopt to fill a hole in your life, to satisfy some incorrect sense of responsibility, or to cement a relationship with a loved one.

Every child deserves to feel wanted. Therefore, if you decide to adopt, make sure you want the child for the child’s sake.

2. Other Members of Your Family Want to Adopt

If you want to adopt and the other members of your family do not, then the adoption may drive a rift between you-especially if the disagreement exists between you and your spouse or partner. Before you can adopt, every person in your family must agree on the change. This way, when the new child joins your family, everyone present will feel happy to meet him or her.

3. Your Marriage or Other Intimate Relationship Is Stable

Perhaps you frequently quarrel with your spouse or partner. Or perhaps you only have a casual or occasional relationship with this other person. You must either fix the issues in your relationship or end the relationship so your interpersonal interactions have stability. Children need stability to feel safe and loved in a family, so try to find stability one way or another before adopting.

4. You Can Handle the Lifelong Responsibility

When you adopt, you will not only raise that child for 18 years. You will build a relationship that lasts a lifetime, and you may have to help this child support himself or herself far into adulthood. If you are not prepared to give another person that kind of commitment, wait until you are. Do not assume the commitment will suddenly appear after the child joins your family.

5. You Can Handle the Additional Financial Obligations

You need a steady income, little debt (and no unnecessary debt), and stable expenses before you add another person to your household. You will have to support this new person for decades. Additionally, adoption fees often cost thousands of dollars. Make sure your budget can sustain these expenses.

6. You Are Willing to Wait for This Opportunity

The adoption process can take months or years. As a result, you cannot go into the process expecting ease and relaxation. You may have to fight for your right to adopt a child. Luckily, you can hire a lawyer to help you.

7. You and Your Family Can Adapt to the Lifestyle Changes

The new child will need a room, clothes, access to extracurricular activities, time with friends, and extra love and attention during the adjustment period. If you and your family cannot supply these things, consider waiting until you can.

8. You Have Some Parental Training

If you already have children, you can cross this step off of your list. However, if you do not know how to nurture and raise a child, acquire some basic training before you adopt a little one into your life.


If you still do not know if you are ready to adopt, contact a family law attorney for assistance. Your attorney can help you make your decision, and then he or she can guide you through the fees and the paperwork until you successfully adopt.