Mark Baumann, Attorney at Law PS, offers services to match most financial budgets or legal needs. It is usually best to have an initial meeting with Mark and determine what are your legal needs and budget, and then make choices about how you want to hire Mark’s office.
The staff at Mark Baumann’s law office includes attorney Mark Baumann (31 years experience), and other professionals as needed on a case by case basis.
- Pre-litigation advice (highly recommended as early as possible to start your case the best way)
- Consultation and advice only, no in-court representation
- Unbundled legal services, representing for a portion of your case
- Full legal services
Services In Detail
1. Pre-litigation advice, and “consultation and advice” only
Mr. Baumann’s law office can provide you with advice about your legal rights and help you prepare your case before it goes to court. Mr. Baumann’s office offers a variety of legal services described below, and he recommends that whatever legal service you choose to use, that you obtain advice before things start happening in court. Preparation can substantially increase the likelihood of a positive and less expensive outcome.
If your case has already started, you may hire Mr. Baumann’s office for a consultation and advice session in which a plan to manage your case can be developed. Mr. Baumann often recommends that clients start with a consultation and advice session to identify goals and costs, and afterwards make a decision about the goals the client wants to achieve and the choice of plan for how to achieve the goals.
This can be the most affordable and low cost way of hiring a lawyer.
2. Unbundled legal services
Mr. Baumann’s office can assist you for a only a specific part of your case, as opposed to being your full-on attorney of record. Legal services can be unbundled in a variety of ways. His office can help you develop a plan to manage your case, and/or draft paperwork, but not appear for you in court. Or, he can make a limited appearance and help you prepare for one hearing and represent you in court for that particular hearing. Examples include representation only for the initial hearings, only for the settlement conference, and only for trial. Decisions about what is the most cost effective way to approach using unbundled services should be discussed with Mr. Baumann as early in the case as possible so that crippling mistakes may be avoided. Unbundled services are offered at hourly and flat rates.
These can be both affordable and allow for effective protection.
3. Full legal services
This is the traditional legal service where Mark K. Baumann, Attorney at Law PS, is your “attorney of record” for the length of your case or as long as you can afford such representation. This involves an initial consultation and development of a plan to manage your case, collecting evidence needed for your case, preparing for hearings and drafting (or helping you draft) all documents needed for court, and appearing in court on your behalf. Your appearance in court may or may not be required, and Mr. Baumann speaks for you in most pre-trial hearings. Most cases resolve before trial, but Mr. Baumann’s office has considerable trial experience and can represent you in trial if a trial is necessary.
Full services can be provided on an hourly or flat fee basis. Full and flat fee services are generally “chunked” and prices cover a specific part of the representation.
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Custody cases can be very emotionally challenging. The initial hearings in any case are very important because it can be difficult to change court rulings later on. Developing a plan for the case is usually very important. Broadly speaking, there are two types of custody cases.
In the first type, both parents desire to get along and both have the ability, or at least potential ability, to do so. When this is possible, cases usually involve less work and time. Sometimes a gentle approach and working with the other spouse/partner can result in an agreement and encouragement to continue focusing on the children’s needs.
“Even if it is likely that you and your spouse will be able to cooperate and get along on custody issues, it’s still best to speak to a lawyer who can help you achieve this goal. All too often, separating parents start out with the best of intentions, but something goes wrong along the way and cases become difficult, or worse, spins out of control. Steps can be taken right away to try to increase the likelihood of preventing conflict from escalating.”Mark Baumann
In the second type of case, the parents have fundamental disagreements about how the future looks, and in some cases, the co-parent is engaging in harmful parenting practices. For these cases, initial steps can be taken to increase the likelihood of reducing or at least minimizing conflict, and also gaining protections for the client and children when harmful-parenting is an issue.
Mark Baumann and his staff are trained in and experienced with numerous parenting approaches, including science-based attachment parenting. They are familiar with the many types of parenting plans available for clients.
Difficult Cases and Harmful Co-Parenting
(High conflict cases)
Some of the most challenging cases are those where one or more parents has challenges to their personality structure which makes it difficult for them to amicably and/or functionally resolve issues. Cases are even more complex when one parent is engaging in a parenting style impairs or causes harm to their children’s psychological and emotional development. These cases need both structure from court orders, and also self-help because the court system can only go so far to solve the problem.
Challenging personalities can be framed up and understood in terms of “personality disorder”, or “disordered-like” behavior, but more effectively in terms of adult attachment patterns. Very broadly speaking, challenging personalities can be sorted into two basic adult attachment patterns. (These patterns can be defined more and more specifically.) The patterns become very clear in the context of danger. Divorce and custody litigation always involve danger, such as the risk of losing relationships, children, property, financial security, and exposure to shame and humiliation.
The first pattern is organized around the person’s feelings and their own perspectives. This pattern involves an affective orientation to the world and to danger in particular. There is a tendency: to oscillate between expressing anger and expressing charming/disarming behavior (or sometimes “rescue me, I can’t do it” behavior); to be constantly locked in some sort of struggle which is hard to resolve and even if it is resolved another struggle quickly takes place; to use coercive behavior to achieve what they want; to have difficulty considering other people’s needs and perspectives; to feel that rules don’t apply to them; to have a hard time seeing how their own behaviors can bethe cause problems; and, to blaming others for all of the problems and rarely taking responsibility. Humiliation may be a very triggering emotion, and relatively little problems can be blown out of proportion quickly (snowball).
The second pattern is organized around sequential thinking, that a particular fact or event should always lead to another known fact, and the perspectives of other people or some set of rules. This pattern involves a cognitive orientation to the world and to danger in particular. There is a tendency: to put other peoples needs ahead of their own; to focus on positive things and ignore or avoid negative things; to avoid conflict even at the cost of emotional harm to themselves or their children; to be very concerned with following rules and doing the right thing and/or not doing the wrong thing (possibly even over-achieving); to be overly self-reliant; to have a hard time seeing that their behaviors might not actually be the cause of problems; to take too much responsibility; and, to blame themselves for too many things and not properly assign blame to other people or the situation. Shame may be a very triggering emotion, and relatively big problems can be reduced to nothing and thereby avoided (yarnball).
In either case, the issue is recognizing the behaviors and challenges to thinking, particularly omitted information, that are leading to difficulty resolving conflict and motivating behaviors that end up (even if unintentional) harming children and promoting more conflict. When one parent is engaging in harmful co-parenting, the ultimate harm is the children’s emotional and psychological development. Counter-acting that harm involves optimizing a parent’s ability to meet their child’s attachment (safety) needs to inoculate the harm as best as possible.
“Studies show that most of the population fits, in either small or significant ways, into one of the two attachment patterns. Even if a person is functioning with significant cognitive or affective orientations, it doesn’t mean that people are bad, or disordered, or evil. It just means that they need help. They may need help controlling their impulses, fighting their desire to avoid addressing something unpleasant, filling in the missing pieces of logic in their thinking processes, and to be able to consider broader contexts and other people’s needs.” Mark Baumann
Mark and his staff use a variety of techniques to address the personality challenges in family law cases. These are described more at Mark’s Integrative Client Counseling Institute web site. The goal is to help clients gain a more clear picture of the challenges they face so they can make more effective decisions about how to move their lives forward and best protect themselves and their children.
Getting a divorce can be a relatively simple or complex matter. It can take a little or a lot of time. Every case is different. It almost always involves intense emotions and the danger of financial insecurity and, if children are involved, losing some amount of relationship with children. Divorce usually involves the need to separate as cleanly as possible from a no-longer functional relationship, while setting up the client for moving forward in life.
Mark can fill different roles for clients in the divorce process. He can represent people fully, he can just appear for one or two hearings, and when the client wants to represent themselves in court he can provide advice, help develop a game plan, and help draft paperwork as necessary. Which role will work best for the client is often discussed in an initial meeting.
The divorce process typically involves several steps. Some cases will go through all of the steps, and other cases may only need a few of the steps. If no one has filed anything in court, the first, and best, step is to talk with a lawyer about your rights and options. For people who are preparing to file or defend a divorce, and for people who want to work on saving their marriage, preparation can be an important step to maximize goals and minimizing costs.
Many cases require an initial hearing to obtain Temporary Orders, such as a temporary parenting plan, child support, spousal support, and protection of assets and from incurring additional debt. The initial hearing is usually extremely important. If a client has limited funds, it is often best to utilize them for the initial hearing.
In Clallam County, most cases are resolved at the mandatory settlement conference, which is held a few months after the case begins. 96% of all civil cases settle before trial.
Divorce and custody cases can take anywhere from a few weeks to 1-2 years to complete, depending on circumstances and needs of the case.
(Intimate Partner Violence, power and control, emotional coercion)
“It’s all your fault.” “Now look what you made me do!” “You’ll never see the children again!” “I’ll ruin you financially!” “No one else will ever love you!”
In many cases, one partner has gone too far in trying to control the other partner. “Domestic violence” involves not just physical efforts to control, but emotional, financial, sexual, and other forms of control. The law provides a wide range of solutions to help people move out of controlling relationships, including solutions to protect finances, and physical and emotional control. Restraining orders can be “light” or “heavy”, and can simply include a provision restricting one party from coming to the other’s home, or include a range of restrictions on contact, such as “by text/email only”. Restraining orders can also include a fuller range of protections to eliminate most or all contact. Developing a Safety Plan is also usually an important step.
“We help clients by listening and understanding what their needs and wishes are. Each case is unique. Some clients prefer very light restrictions on contact, and others need substantial protections. It may be counter-productive to eliminate all contact when the parties have ongoing needs to communicate about certain issues, and in some cases it may be counter-productive to allow any contact whatsoever. Sometimes we start with one type of restraining order, and then modify it as time moves on and needs change.” Mark Baumann
DV goes by many other names including Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), power and control, emotional coercion, and compulsive coercion.
Domestic violence behavior includes many types of behavior including physical assault, pushing, shoving, throwing things, spitting, hitting, kicking, and can include intense forms of emotional abuse such as yelling, name calling, putting down, belittling, disparaging, insulting, humiliating, shaming, forcing compliance with unreasonable rules, and sexual abuse.
From an adult attachment perspective*, these cases tend to involve a person who is compulsively coercive. They may have a deep desire to satisfy their own needs, have difficulty considering the needs of others, tend to act quickly and aggressively based on their feelings-in-the-moment, and have great difficulty in truly accepting responsibility for their own actions or contributions to problems, and intense and unfair blaming is common. Usually, the coercive person is very sensitive to being humiliated (whether true or not) and tends to increase their aggression when they feel humiliated. Often they are extremely sensitive to a feeling of being abandoned (whether true or not). Because of all this, they tend to be apparently oblivious to what they are doing, and don’t take any self-responsibility, and they tend to consistently use coercive methods to get other people (including you) to do what they want. Often, the person engaging in coercive tactics is not just persistently using coercive methods, but deep down inside they feel compelled, with a compulsion to always try to get their needs met with excessively strong tactics.
It is a common misconception that if the “victim” just gives the “perpetrator” what they want, things will better. Because the basic behavior tactics are learned early in life, and teenage and adult experience reinforce the behavior, the more they are allowed to act out with compulsively coercive tactics, the more it happens. In other words, giving in and trying to placate just makes things worse in the long run. For some clients, the “perpetrator” has gone too far and there is no hope of limiting the behavior, but for some clients, there is hope and we work with the clients to learn and apply relationship techniques that reduce the use of compulsively coercive tactics.
“Providing protections for clients usually involves implementing one or more boundaries. These can include restraining orders, or just helping the client learn how to say no while protecting them, and their children, from potential backlash. Sometimes child support and spousal support orders are helpful to protect against one party causing financial ruin to the other. We have represented many clients who have experienced a little emotional control to the most extreme forms of control.” Mark Baumann
Mark recommends people to develop safety plans. Whether you are a DV victim, think you are, or are just in a relationship where emotions can get out of control quickly, having a plan for what to do can be the best form of protection for everyone involved.
Dividing property in a divorce action can be straightforward, or complex. Property can be sold and the proceeds divided, but more commonly property is awarded in a way that provides each party a fair share of the total assets. For example, one party may be awarded the house and the other the retirement accounts, or one party may be awarded more property but also more debt.
Retirement accounts can be given to one spouse in full, or divided easily in any necessary proportion (such as 50-50, 60-40, etc.). When retirement accounts are divided, the receiving spouse usually gets a new account with the retirement company in their name and their share of the retirement moves tax-free into their new and private account. Withdrawals from the new account are governed by either the rules applicable to their age, or sometimes according to the age of the other party.
Generally speaking, all property and debts acquired during a marriage are considered community property, although there are important exceptions. Inheritances and gifts which are kept separate and not hopelessly mixed with community property are generally separate property.
When dividing property, the court will generally go through four steps. First, all property must be identified. Even if the property is clearly separate property it needs to be identified. (Separate property will generally be awarded to the person owning it, but it is important to identify it in the final divorce decree so there are no disputes later about the ownership of that property.) Second, property should be valued. Vehicles can be valued on Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) or on NADA Guides. Substantial items of personal property can often be valued on Craig’s list or Ebay. Real estate can be valued by a realtor or on Zillow.com. Talk to your lawyer about how to value other items. Smaller items and household items can be valued but often they are not. Third, the court determines the character of the property, whether it is community, separate, or mixed. Fourth, the parties (or the court if necessary) determine how to divide the property.
Washington courts generally divide property 50-50, but that is not required. The only requirement is that property be divided in a fair and equitable manner. Washington courts may also consider separate property in making an award, and even award one party’s separate property to the other party although that is not very common.
Property will be divided according to the party’s wishes, if they can reach an agreement before trial. If not, then a judge will determine who gets what. Most cases in Clallam County resolve before trial at the mandated settlement conference. An important issue for getting a property award that you want is to prepare before you start negotiating and determine what is most important to and your future. Failure to adequately prepare can cause the case to go to trial. Often, to get the best settlement for any individual client, all of the factors in the divorce need to be carefully considered in the larger picture of an overall settlement.
Are you planning to move with your children out of the school district you currently live in? Is your ex-spouse (or ex-partner) planning on moving with the kids? “Relocation” is the legal term for moving with children, and it involves complex issues. Whether you want to move or object to the other parent moving, pre-planning (if possible) as far in advance as possible is critical to increasing success in court.
Relocation involves a procedure that is controlled by statutes and case law. RCW 26.09.405-560 are the statutes that govern relocation cases in Washington state. The notice provisions are important, and RCW 26.09.520 is the statute that details 11 factors the court must consider in granting or denying a relocation.
“I have been involved in numerous relocation cases, helping clients with pre-planning, court room work before trial (including requests to move before trial), trial, and appeal. I have represented men and women wanting to move, and also men and women objecting to the other parent moving. In Marriage of Wehr, I succeeded in achieving my client’s goals in all four stages, in the pre-planning, motion for temporary orders, trial and on appeal. Click here to read the Wehr case from the Court of Appeals (this version includes the unpublished portion detailing the facts and addressing psychological issues).”
– Mark Baumann, 2014
If you wish to represent yourself, or prepare as much as you can before you contact an attorney for relocation advice, you can review the statutes. Here is a link to the statute that lists the factors the court must consider. For more in depth research, search “rcw 26 09 520 and relocation” at scholar.google.com (make sure to restrict your search to Washington cases) and read the cases involving relocation.
Child and Spousal Support
A child support order is required in all cases involving children, and the amount is determined based on a formula that uses the parties net (after tax) income. Other child rearing costs can be added to basic support, such as day care, health care costs, and “extraordinary items” which can include travel, educational, and extracurricular (SNACCMS) expenses.
A number of factors can influence the amount of support, such as the number and age of children. If you wish to see a rough estimate of what support might be, you can do so at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Child Support, Quick Child Support Estimator. https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/dcs/SSGen/Home/QuickEstimator
For self employed people, determining the net income can sometimes be a challenge. In some cases, such as modifications and for unmarried people, the Washington State Division of Child Support can establish or modify a child support order. Talk to a lawyer if you want to know more about the pros and cons of establishing or modifying a support through DCS or through the court system.
Necessary documentation. The law requires parties to provide the court their last 6 months of pay stubs, last two tax returns, and last two W-2 forms. If those documents are not available, other types of proof of income may suffice for the court.
Support enforcement. Both child and spousal support can be enforced by the court’s contempt power. Support payments can normally be set up through the Division of Child Support if client’s wish, and they can enforce payment. DCS has many ways to force payment of support from unwilling parents.
Spousal support is an option in divorce cases, but it is not an option in cases where the parties are not married. Unlike child support, there is no formula for spousal support, and it can be set based on a number of factors and sometimes even different standards. Usually, the requesting spouse needs to establish a need for support and also the ability of the other spouse to pay. RCW 26.09.090 (full text below) is the statute that sets out the basic guidelines for spousal support, although case law provides more details for how a court might determine support.
Maintenance orders for either spouse or either domestic partner—Factors.
(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, legal separation, declaration of invalidity, or in a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of the marriage or domestic partnership by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse or absent domestic partner, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse or either domestic partner. The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to misconduct, after considering all relevant factors including but not limited to:
(a) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including separate or community property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party;
(b) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to his or her skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;
(c) The standard of living established during the marriage or domestic partnership;
(d) The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership;
(e) The age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance; and
(f) The ability of the spouse or domestic partner from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance.
Third Party Custody
(Non-Parental Custody, Grandparent Rights)
This is a complex area of law. It is often said that grandparents have no rights to see their grand children. While this is generally true, there are many exceptions. Perhaps the most common is the case where a third party, someone other than a biological parent, has been caring for the children for some length of time. Court’s can enter orders giving third parties rights to raise children or be involved with caretaking. Also, parents can delegate their rights to third parties both orally and by written letter.
To establish third party custody rights when there is no agreement, or an agreement is difficult to reach, it generally requires filing a law suit to establish third party rights. Court’s can enter temporary orders to establish a parenting plan for third parties and parents as appropriate for the individual case.
Guardianship is generally not an option for obtaining custodial rights. Guardianship is generally more about obtaining the legal right to make decisions for someone else, rather than to establish the right to have a child live with you. The Law Office of Mark Baumann does do handle guardianship cases, and refers these cases to other lawyers when that is the appropriate legal vehicle.
If you are interested in establishing third party rights, it is recommended that you contact an attorney and develop a game plan for how to maximize the outcome and minimize the costs.