Pope, Houser & Barnes, PLLC
has been meeting the family law needs of this community since 1975. Over 95% of our business is the result of referrals from other attorneys, former clients, and the former spouses of past clients. William B. Pope has served as Chair of the Thurston County Bar Association's Family Law Committee for close to three decades. All of the attorneys in the firm are actively involved in the community and are professionally acquainted with appraisers, Realtors, accountants, counselors, and other individuals who may provide professional support in your case. All the attorneys from the firm attend Continuing Legal Educational seminars on family law topics and two of the attorneys are often called upon to speak as faculty. William B. Pope has been a lecturer at the invitation of the Thurston County Bar Association, the Washington State Bar Association, and the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association (The Washington State Association for Justice).
Divorce, Legal Separation, & Annulment
Divorce (which is know in the State of Washington as “the dissolution of marriage”), legal separation, and annulment (which is know in the State of Washington as a “declaration of invalidity of marriage”) are three separate legal procedures by which marital relationships are ended. We are very experienced in all aspects of these types of cases.
Parenting Plans, Custody, & Visitation
As part of divorce, legal separation, or annulment, parenting plans are necessary for the well-being of children. The terms “custody” and “visitation” are not generally used in the State of Washington; they are included with the concept of the parenting plan. Parenting plans are specific to each family. They are based on children's needs and parents' beliefs about those needs. When parents fail to agree to a parenting plan, a court will order a parenting plan that it believes is in the best interests of the children. We can assist you with parenting issues and the drafting of a meaningful parenting plan.
Orders of child support are required whenever there are dependent children. Child support in Washington is based on the parents' incomes and the Washington State Child Support Schedule and Guidelines. There is much more involved than simply applying incomes to a formula. Our firm can assist you with this important issue.
When one spouse needs financial support during the transition from marriage to separation, and the other spouse can afford to provide it, spousal maintenance may be appropriate for a reasonable length of time. There are no objective standards for computing the amount or duration of spousal maintenance in Washington. For this reason, it is a very challenging issue to address. Our firm can help you obtain a meaningful maintenance award.
Property and debt must be identified, valued, and equitably divided, often by special orders such as Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), which divide pension benefits. We are fully qualified to handle these types of cases.
When unmarried partners have children and then separate, their relationships can become very difficult. Their rights and responsibilities with respect to their children will be unclear without court orders. Unmarried couples' rights and responsibilities regarding property and debt are not well defined in Washington. One person may have no right to the other person's property and no responsibility for the other person's debt. However, if a marital-like or meretricious relationship exists (referred to as a committed, intimate relationship or equity relationship), the rights and responsibilities may be almost the same as a married couple. Our firm has a great deal of experience with these types of relationships and the problems that can arise.
Prenuptial & Cohabitation Agreements
Many couples wish to clarify their financial rights and responsibilities before marriage by the preparation of a Prenuptial Agreement. Washington is a community property state. The law presumes that all property acquired during marriage will be community property. That presumption can be changed, and separate property can be protected, by a Prenuptial Agreement. Each agreement is personal to the couple that enters into it. The agreement must be prepared correctly and in compliance with case law guidelines or it will be set aside and not considered by the court.
Final property and debt divisions cannot be modified. Parenting plans, orders of spousal maintenance, and child support may be subject to modification when there is a substantial change of circumstances or other criteria is met. A final order that is not clear may also be subject to clarification by the court. If you have a problem or questions, please call.
Whether you a birth parent or a perspective parent (dealing with either an agency or private adoption) we have the expertise to help.
The attorneys at Pope, Houser & Barnes, PLLC provide criminal defense in offenses ranging from traffic infractions, to driving under the influence and reckless driving, to domestic violence and drug offenses. Our office provides the experience and availability from the date of your arraignment through trial, as needed. Our attorneys will ensure your rights are protected. They will work tirelessly to obtain the best possible result.
Wills, Trusts, and Healthcare Directive/Powers of Attorney
Every estate plan should include a will to provide the peace of mind that every asset will be accounted for and distributed in accordance with your wishes. A will is also important to appoint a guardian for your minor children, or to manage and protect the assets you leave to them until they are older. The alternative to a will is the law of intestate succession, which takes all of your property and gives it to your relatives and the state according to a statutory procedure, without any regard to how you would want your property to be given.
While a will is still very important, trusts are another tool which can be of great benefit to your estate plan. Through a trust, you transfer title to an asset to a trustee to manage for the beneficiaries, who will later take over the asset at a designated time. You can have the assets professionally managed, maximizing wealth accumulation for the beneficiary. At the same time, a trust can be used to avoid estate tax on the asset and avoid probate at the same time. With a revocable living trust, you can cancel or change the trust during your lifetime, should your needs or desires change. Trusts are often an integral part of financial and tax planning.
If you do not currently have a Last Will and Testament, your family and loved ones will be guided by Washington State law to handle the affairs of your estate.
We often ask our clients to think of it this way…If you do not put into writing what your wishes are, the State will do it for you. Most people would prefer to have some say in how their estate is handled. That is why we make it easy and cost effective to prepare your Last Will and Testament.
Our attorneys have the experience and the knowledge to handle straight-forward and more complex estate planning matters, from drafting a Last Will and Testament, to preparing power of attorney and health care directives, often called a “Living Will.” At your consultation, we will take the time to answer any questions you may have regarding your estate to ensure you understand your options.
Whether you need to update an old will, draft a new one, or name someone to handle your affairs if you are unable to do so, we can help.
Our firm is also available to assist our clients when an estate needs to be settled. Our attorneys provide the legal assistance and guidance in the administration of estates of all sizes and complexities. The probate proceeding is a Superior Court process that ensures the estate is managed properly by making sure all debts and taxes are paid and assets are transferred to the appropriate heirs or beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased's Last Will and Testament or according to Washington State law if there was no will.
Our firm is available to represent clients in personal injury litigation and insurance claims. We continue to represent clients in vehicle accidents, bicycle and motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and premise liability cases (“slip and fall” matters).
We typically take these types of cases on a contingency basis, but will also work with clients to provide services on an hourly-rate basis.
The business and corporate attorneys at Pope, Houser & Barnes, PLLC are here to assist businesses just starting up, expanding, or dissolving. Formation of a legal business entity, whether a limited liability company, corporation, or non-profit organization, is a complex undertaking. We are able to assist you in determining the best organizational structure to meet your needs.
We will also assist in preparing and filing your Certification of Formation, Articles of Incorporation, or Bylaws.
The firm can assist businesses as they grow and face additional challenges. We are available to review or draft Employment Agreements, Non-Compete Agreements, Lease Agreements, Asset Purchase Agreements, and Stock Agreements.