Areas of Practice

Christian R. Franz takes pride in practicing law in the following areas.

Practice Areas

    Estate Planning

     Criminal Defense

     Real Estate

     Family Law    

            ●  Divorce

            ●  Legal Separation

            ●  Property Division

            ●  Parenting & Custody

            ●  Child Support

            ●  Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) 

            ●  Relocation of the Children

            ●  Modifications

            ●  Paternity

 

Estate Planning is a process of drafting documents which help business and medical decisions transpire smoothly upon a person's disability, incompetence or death. Documents commonly discussed include Medical Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney, Directive to Physician (Living Will), Will and where appropriate, a Community Property Agreement.

Criminal Defense concerns provision of services as counsel for persons accused of having committed crimes (a charge for which a person can be put in jail). The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. For a gross misdemeanor, 365 days in jail and/or $5,000 fine is the maximum. Any charge for which a person can be incarcerated for more than 365 days is a felony. Chris represents persons charged with misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors in Kitsap and Jefferson Counties.

Real Estate: Our services include drafting and reviewing Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreements (REPSA), drafting Quit Claim Deeds and Real Estate Excise Affidavits.

Family Law encompasses the following issues:

            Divorce
            In Washington, divorce is referred to as “dissolution of marriage.” It is a “no-fault" proceeding. This means that neither     party is required, or allowed, to prove that the other party was at “fault“ in order for the dissolution to be granted. The grounds for dissolution of marriage are only that one party believes that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no chance of reconciliation. Fault is only potentially relevant where parenting plan issues are before the court but it does not normally apply in any way to property division.

An uncontested dissolution occurs when both parties have agreed on all issues. When the parties are unable to agree on one or more issues, it is, at least technically, a contested dissolution and, if settlement is not reached between the parties, a judge will ultimately make a ruling on the unresolved questions. The types of issues at stake in a dissolution include parenting plan questions, child support, property and debt division and, where appropriate, spousal maintenance and payment of attorney fees.

Dissolution of marriage is one of the most devastating events that can befall a family. Beyond the emotional pain, it can be legally complex. It is important that potential litigants contact an experienced attorney who can help with the process. The old adage to “know your rights“ applies here with some force. Not knowing can prove very costly and examples abound of cases in which people have forfeited assets or otherwise suffered because they did not have solid legal advice.

        Legal Separation
       In Washington, a possible alternative to marital dissolution is a legal separation. Couples sometimes choose legal separation instead of dissolution for, among others, religious reasons or to maintain health insurance coverage for an ailing spouse. A legal separation case addresses the same issues as a marital dissolution case does. The parties remain married at the end, however. A legal separation decree may be converted to a decree of dissolution by either party, after a minimum of six (6) months have passed since the decree of legal separation was entered.

        Property Division
      Washington is a known as a “community property“ state. Community property generally includes assets purchased, earned or otherwise acquired by the husband or wife, or the marital community, during the marriage. Both parties have an interest in property acquired with wages, even though purchased primarily with the earnings of only one spouse. When dividing community property, the court considers a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of both parties and the future financial needs and resources available to each party. Separate property must be distinguished from community property. Separate property is generally characterized as property which was owned by one of the parties before the marriage, or was received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance which results from otherwise separate assets. While all property is before the court in a dissolution or legal separation proceeding, there is generally respect for the separate/community nature of a given asset. In other words, while the court has the power to award separate property of one spouse to the other spouse, they usually don‘t. At times, however, this does happen in order for a court to satisfy its notion of achieving a “fair and equitable“ division of property. The law favors community property over separate property and property status can change where there has been, for example, commingling of community and separate assets. This area can be complex and a person contemplating dissolution or legal separation is well advised to seek competent counsel. Such counsel should also be sought before any significant status changes in property ownership are placed into effect.

 

        Parenting & Custody
      Washington courts do not award “custody“ to either parent, but rather, they determine a Parenting Plan which sets forth where the children will live and the times they will be with each parent. In every Washington dissolution where there are children, there must be a Parenting Plan filed with the court by the time final dissolution papers are entered. Parenting issues often engender deep emotional feelings in the parents and call for the assistance of an experienced attorney because of the high potential for expense. TKF lawyers are highly experienced in this arena and can help.

        Child Support
      In Washington, as in most states, both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children. Washington utilizes the “Washington State Child Support Schedule“ to determine the amount of child support that should be paid by the non-residential parent for support of the children. The guidelines consider many factors, including the incomes of the parties, the number and ages of the children, health insurance costs for the children, the amount of time each parent spends with the children, daycare costs and other child related expenses. One of our attorneys can help you estimate the amount of child support that you might pay or receive, once you have provided appropriate financial and other necessary information.

        Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) 
      Usually, when spousal maintenance is awarded, it is awarded for a specific purpose and/or for a specified length of time. The court looks at many factors when considering spousal maintenance, such as the length of the marriage; the age, health, education, and earning capacity of each spouse; the standard of living both parties enjoyed during the marriage and any other financial circumstances which might affect future need or the ability to pay. TKF lawyers are quite familiar with spousal maintenance issues.

        Relocation of the Children
      The primary residential parent has the presumptive right to re-locate to a new location (different school district, new town, new state or new county) with the parties‘ minor children. However, Washington law now requires the party who wishes to move to file and serve a Notice of Intended Relocation on the other party. The other parent is given the opportunity to object to such a move and to prevent it, by rebutting the presumption. One of our attorneys can guide you through the statutory requirements involved, whether you are the relocating or the objecting party.

        Modifications
      A Parenting Plan may be modified under appropriate circumstances. This can be difficult to accomplish, however, because in order to promote stability, the law discourages changes in the children‘s principle residence. Minor changes can sometimes, but not always, be more easily accomplished. The best strategy is to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in this arena.

An existing Order of Child Support can be modified when there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last order was entered. It can also be adjusted, without reason, every two years. Substantial changes of circumstance include a significant change in the income of either party, a child moving into a new age category, or a child approaching the age of 18. Modification may also involve post-secondary educational support. We can assist with all of these issues.

        Paternity
      Paternity issues can be very complex because of the emotional and financial implications. Child support and parenting plan issues are handled in much the same way as they are in a dissolution, but there are other issues which are unique to unmarried couples. Our attorneys are highly experienced with paternity cases and can assist with all related questions 
 
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