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Vancouver Washington Legal Blog

Causal factors of divorce in marriages lasting 20 years or more

You've likely heard all the sayings about how time flies and that you should enjoy time with your kids while they're young because they will be grown and on their own in what seems like the blink of an eye. Being married 20 years or more, raising kids, and perhaps, already having a few grandkids to enjoy may illustrate how many years have actually passed between the day you said, "I do," and the day you filed your divorce papers.  

You're definitely not the only Washington resident filing for divorce this year; in fact, you are also likely not the only one who happens to have been married two or more decades before doing so. Divorce beyond age 50 is becoming more common throughout the nation. Some say the numbers of those filing for divorce late in life has tripled in recent years. While you know better than anyone what led to your own marital break-up, you may wonder what has caused the increase in long-term marriage divorce. 

The maze of bankruptcy exemptions

Many residents of Vancouver who decide to seek protection under the federal Bankruptcy Act do not realize that they can designate certain assets as "exempt" from seizure. The problem for most people is choosing between the exemptions provided under Washington state law and the Bankruptcy Act. Both lists are exclusive, that is, a debtor cannot pick some state exemptions and then choose other federal exemptions.

Federal bankruptcy exemptions include the following: up to $15,000 in value of the family home; up to $2,400 in value of a motor vehicle; up to $8,000 in value in household goods, clothing and the like; up to $1,000 in jewelry; up to $1,500 in implements or tools of the debtor's trade; the debtor's right to receive a Social Security or veterans' benefit; and other financial interests in retirement plans. The federal list of exemptions contains many other valuable assets that are not usually claimed but are nevertheless important to some debtors.

Dividing property in a Washington divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, one of the critical questions they face is how to divide their property. Washington is one of the few remaining states that classify property as either community property or separate property. Understanding the definitions of both kinds of property and the effect of the state's community property law may require the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney.

Community property is all property acquired by the couple or by either spouse during the marriage. Community property includes all earnings of both spouses during the marriage, income from assets, such as real estate or a business, and the appreciation in value of those assets. Community property also includes assets acquired with community funds, even if title is taken in the name of only one spouse. Income earned on retirement plan assets is considered community property.

High school golf team injured in chain-reaction crash

Car accidents happen in many different circumstances. Some even occur when the vehicle is not moving. A recent chain reaction car accident that involved several stationary vehicles was initiated by a single driver in Wahkiakum County. Several people were injured in the accident, with at least one person suffering serious injuries.

A line of cars was stopped on Highway 4 near Stella waiting for a WSDOT construction crew to clear the road. Among the waiting vehicles was an SUV carrying the Wahkiakum High School golf team. An 84-year old driver rear-ended the team's SUV with his pickup, beginning a chain reaction crash that ultimately damaged five vehicles and injured several people.

Estate planning to avoid the probate process

Estate planning can give you peace of mind for the future, allowing you to decide what will happen to your estate and property after you pass. It can also allow you to care for loved ones and beneficiaries through a will or a trust. Every estate plan is different, and you can draft yours to meet your individual needs and objectives.

For many Washington residents, one of the goals for their estate plans is to avoid the probate process. Probate can be a lengthy and complex process for beneficiaries to walk through after your passing, but there are ways you may be able to help them avoid it altogether.

Understanding how a guardianship is used for adults

Most residents of Washington understand that a guardianship is used to protect the interests of a minor child whose parents are deceased or otherwise unable or unwilling to manage the child's affairs. In Washington, the term "guardianship" refers to both minors and adults who are placed under the care of another person. (A number of other states use the term "conservatorship" to distinguish between the two proceedings.) Establishing a guardianship can be an important estate planning or management tool for those with family members and close friends who are unable to manage their own affairs.

A guardian for an adult is appointed by an order of the superior court in the district where the adult lives. In order to justify appointment of a guardian, a person must be found to be "...incompetent by reason of mental illness, developmental disability, senility, habitual drunkenness, excessive use of drugs, or other mental incapacity, of either managing his or her property or caring for himself or herself, or both." The statute stresses that appointment of a guardian for an individual is a legal decision, not a medical one. As a practical matter, a guardian for an adult is appointed when an individual has demonstrated problems with managing personal care or financial matters.

What is a conditional use permit?

The Vancouver municipal zoning code contains many important terms that can be difficult to understand. One of the most important terms is "conditional use permit." Conditional use permits are used to regulate real estate developments that do not fit exactly within the permitted uses allowed in the city zoning code. As the name implies, the City may impose various conditions on a development proposal before an approval is issued.

As stated in the zoning code, a proposed conditional use is reviewed "to determine if such a use is appropriate at the proposed location and, if appropriate, to identify any additional conditions of approval necessary to mitigate potentially adverse impacts." All new conditional use permit applications are classified as a Type III procedure, which means they will be reviewed by a hearings examiner and subject to the approval criteria specified in Chapter 20 of the Zoning Code.

Tailgating driver causes four-car accident, injures seven

The widespread use of cell phones and other mobile devices seems to be the cause of an increasing number of vehicle collisions that are blamed on inattentive drivers. A recent car accident on the I-5 bridge in Vancouver has been tentatively blamed on "driver inattention."

Three vehicles were southbound on I-5 when they encountered a Ford Focus stopped in the left lane. The first two vehicles slowed for the blockage, but the third vehicle crashed into the rear of the second vehicle. That collision forced the first vehicle into the stalled Focus. The police said that the accident was caused by inattention on the part of the vehicle that started the chain reaction, and the driver was charged with following too closely.

Intoxicants blamed for wrong-way driver on I-5

One of the significant hazards posed by drivers who are intoxicated is a wrong-way collision on a divided highway. Given the number of visual clues that are available to tell a driver that they are driving in the wrong direction, the occurrence of wrong-way driving always seems to be prevalent. A recent arrest by the Oregon State Police shows how an allegedly drunk driver can appear to be completely detached from reality.

The State Police received a report of a wrong-way driver on I-5 near Salem at about 10:30 in the evening. The driver in question was driving south on the inside shoulder of the northbound lane. Troopers attempted to stop her with flashing lights and sirens, but the driver ignored them. She continued driving south until troopers were able to stop northbound traffic. One of the officers was able to intentionally collide with the wrong-way vehicle.

The land use review process in Vancouver

Vancouver strictly controls land use within the city limits. The city is divided into various zoning districts, and each has a specific set of regulations that control land use, building height and type of structure. Every proposal to erect, demolish or rehabilitate a structure, develop a parcel of real estate or modify the use of a structure must go through the city's land use review process.

The Zoning Code specifies four types of land use review. Type I review applies to minor permits that require only ministerial review, such as minor variances and site plan reviews. A planning official usually approves or rejects a Type I review without providing public notice or conducting a public hearing.

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