James MaGee

Representation You Can Trust

We proudly serve the citizens of Washington

in matters of family law and bankruptcy.

James MaGee family law and bankruptcy attorney

Washington Family Lawyer

You can Hire One of the Most Competent, Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Washington State

With decades of experience as a practicing attorney, Mr. MaGee has unparalleled experience and knowledge to represent you in any family law or divorce case, anywhere in Washington.

One of Washington's Leading Bankruptcy Lawyers

James MaGee practices bankruptcy law in his offices in Moses Lake, and represents clients throughout Washington state. His successful record spans decades and thousands of cases.

Top Family Lawyer in Washington

Few events in life are more challenging than separating from your spouse and going through a divorce. Many of us, including myself, have or will experience a range of emotions before, during, and after divorce. We may feel guilt, anger, remorse, loss, worry about children, and whether the children will blame us for separating the family. There are as many emotional responses to divorce as there are individuals who enter into a divorce. We each have our reasons, and we each must contend with our private thoughts and emotions.

At the James MaGee law firm, I have felt many of the same emotions and dealt with my pain from my divorce. One of the primary reasons that led me to become a successful family law attorney was that few attorneys have sufficient empathy and understanding to help their clients achieve a truly balanced and fair judgment for both parties without causing even more pain and stress during the process. I’ve seen clients from other firms who have been emotionally scarred by divorce and whose lives outside of the divorce have been damaged, either professionally or personally, or both.

This website exists to explain that I provide legal representation for family law clients in Washington. It contains a growing list of helpful articles and resources that I hope will be beneficial to you not only in evaluating me as your attorney but also to guide you to find better insights personally and for your family members to help you all come through the divorce with outcomes that you can all accept. Results that will help you move forward in life after divorce with hope and the capacity to live a full life again.

What You’ll Learn from My Site

Like any attorney’s web site, you should not consider the information here as legal advice or that by reading the material here that an attorney-client relationship exists between us. That said, my goal is to give you the information that you need to make decisions based on the best factual material. I’ve collected this material and spent considerable amounts of time distilling it into information that you can understand and use without plowing through legalize. With this information, you’ll be prepared for the process of divorce and how it will affect you, your family, your finances, and your life.

When you contact my office to make an appointment to discuss your divorce, you may have many questions about divorce. Here are some examples of the topics that you may wish to discuss with me. Some will be resolved through the divorce process and the divorce decree. Many others will take time to think through what has happened and how to make the best of life going forward.

I’ve decided to file for divorce. Do I have to meet any conditions to file?

At a minimum, Washington state requires a mandatory waiting period of 90 days from the time you file until the judge can act on your case.

Can I file a no-fault divorce in Washington?

Yes. Washington is a strict no-fault divorce state, so the only acceptable ground for divorce or separation is that your marriage is irretrievably broken.

Financial Impacts of Divorce

How is the division of home, investments, cars, furniture, and other significant property handled in Washington State?

Washington is a community property state. All property included in a divorce filing in Washington State is subject to division according to Washington State divorce standards.

The division is unlikely to be even; it will be divided according to an “equitable” standard that is “fair and just.” Courts will usually award each spouse his or her separate property and divide community property evenly. This may mean that a home that one spouse owned prior to the marriage may be considered separate property in a divorce, but certain conditions may affect property assignment. Likewise, debts accumulated by both spouses during the marriage are shared equally by both spouses.

Once the spouses are legally separated, each spouse is responsible for their debts at that point.

Is alimony—also known as spousal support—paid in a Washington State divorce?

Assignment of alimony can be part of the judge’s ruling, especially in the cases of families with children. There are rules of thumb for the number of years of alimony that one spouse may have to pay another. Spousal support is an area that we would explore in our pre-divorce consultations.

Who pays alimony in a divorce in Washington State?

Washington State divorce law requires the divorce court to consider the need of a spouse requesting alimony and the other spouse’s income and ability to pay.

How is alimony calculated?

There are rules of thumb for calculating the amount of alimony that one spouse may have to pay another. Alimony is an area that we would explore in our pre-divorce consultations.

What conditions terminate alimony payments?

Generally speaking, the term of the alimony payments is part of the judge’s ruling in your divorce case. Washington State courts understand that some spouses need time and financial assistance to become independent, especially in situations where one spouse left a career to raise a family. That said, Washington State courts encourage both spouses to be self-supporting eventually. Alimony is an area that we would explore in our pre-divorce consultations.

Can alimony be required in common law marriage or “palimony” living arrangements?

In general, unmarried couples have no rights to support unless the two have previously agreed to provide alimony if they decide to separate.

The “Dirty Dozen” actor Lee Marvin was famously part of a significant ruling in California court. The term “palimony” was coined as part of the press coverage of the separate. While “palimony” is not a legal term and has no bearing on the separation of unmarried couples, it is in the couple’s best interest to include property rights, property division, and other significant details–including the payment of support or not—in a written agreement signed by both parties.

In summary, unmarried cohabitants’ rights and duties are now similar to those of married couples – they have a right to contract with each other, an obligation to support their children, property ownership rights, and responsibilities for debts and liabilities.

However, there are some significant differences. There is no mutual duty of maintenance, meaning there is no legal duty to provide financial support during or after the relationship. They do not receive the same tax benefits as married couples, except as might be included in an agreement entered into by both parties. Alimony is an area that we would explore in our pre-divorce consultations.

Does same-sex marriage affect financial dissolution, including alimony?

On February 13, 2012, Governor Christine Gregoire signed a same-sex marriage equality bill. This bill – “Referendum 74” - was approved by Washington voters on November 6, 2012, in a 52-48 percent win. The law, which allows same-sex couples to wed, took effect on December 6, 2012. Same-sex marriages have been taking place in Washington since December 9, 2012.

Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Washington, cohabitation laws should apply to all couples that meet the legal requirements for cohabitation relationships—not just opposite-sex couples. However, no case dealing precisely with the issue of same-sex cohabitants’ property rights has been heard and decided since December of 2012.

Does polygamy affect financial dissolution, including alimony?

Since polygamy is illegal in Washington State according to RCW 9.15. 010, which provides in part, “Every person who, having a husband or wife living, shall marry another person, or continue to cohabit with such second husband or wife in this state, shall be guilty of bigamy,” the question of support for multiple spouses would be overridden or at least complicated by the existence of a bigamous relationship. Alimony is an area that we would explore in our pre-divorce consultations.

Child support

Which parent pays child support in Washington State?

The child support award in a Washington state divorce will depend on the custody arrangement in the judge’s ruling and on each parent’s income. Typically, the parent who spends less than 50 percent of their time with the child pays child support.

How is child support calculated in Washington State?

Washington State provides a child support calculator here. The calculator is for estimates only. As the Washington State web page at the link states, “Keep in mind that this calculator is not meant to cover every possible fact pattern that could arise, and any amounts calculated are advisory only. The superior court judge, court commissioner, or administrative law judge has the final authority to determine the amount of child support ordered.”

What happens if child support is not paid?

A child support order in Washington is a legal obligation, and failure to pay can have serious consequences. For example, if the non-custodial parent doesn’t pay, he or she can be held in contempt of court, fined, or sent to jail. The judge can also rule that his or her license may be suspended along with any professional license. DCS can take direct action to collect the amounts due, including ordering the person’s employer to withhold funds and deliver them for payment, file liens against the person’s property, attach the person’s bank accounts, refer the case for criminal prosecution, and more. If you, as a family law client of my firm, find yourself in a situation where you may not be able to meet your child support obligations, please contact my office before you fail to pay to discuss whether we can make a motion for modification of the child support and/or other payments.

What about child support for children born out of wedlock in Washington State?

Generally speaking, in Washington State, when two unmarried parents have a child, custody defaults to the mother. However, if paternity is established for the father, his rights as a parent will hold equal weight in court. Until the court determines paternity, the child’s father doesn’t have any rights or responsibilities to the child, meaning no duty to pay child support or the right to enjoy custody or visitation with the child.

Once paternity is established, both parents will share the costs of raising their child. For example, the mother can seek court-ordered child support.

How long must child support be paid?

In most cases in Washington, child support comes to an end when the children in question turn 18-years-old or graduate from high school, whichever comes later. There are some circumstances where child support could continue longer. Child support is an area that we would explore in our pre-divorce consultations.

What conditions terminate child support payments?

In general, child support payments will continue until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first. There may be exceptions that may come into play, such as your child legally declares him or herself an “emancipated minor” according to Washington State law, RCW 13.64.060. There are several stringent conditions that a minor child must meet to be qualified and adjudged by a court as an “emancipated minor”. One of the outcomes of achieving such status is that the “emancipated minor” is legally considered an adult. The parents of the child will no longer have to support the child financially. Child support is an area that we would explore in our pre-divorce consultations.

Psychological and Other Impacts of Divorce

In the brief question and answer section above, I’ve listed a number of common concerns about the changes that may come about as a result of your divorce, including your rights, property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

However, these are not the only effects of divorce that spouses in Washington State will contend with. There are various emotions and other psychological issues and changes that you should be prepared to deal with. While my practice does not include psychiatry, there are several resources, including books and web sites, that I can recommend to you as places to start as you prepare yourself mentally for divorce in Washington State.

As we proceed with filing your divorce, it may be difficult to avoid feelings of guilt, anger, depression, and other negative emotions during negotiations and divorce proceedings that may cause you to be either too generous or too negative to achieve a positive outcome. While I will try to guide you to make the best settlement in the interest of you, your spouse, and your children, if any, you need to prepare yourself for the experience that you’re about to undergo in the coming years. As we move through your pre-divorce consultations and into filing the case itself, I’ll share some of those resources I’ve encountered in my experience.

Representation You Can Trust

Testimonials from Our Clients

Professionalism, Quality, Responsiveness, Value

Mr. MaGee is a great advocate! I was feeling discouraged and defeated in my family law case. When I found MaGee he got me off my friend's couch and back into my own home. Amazing how many rights you have as a father if you only knew how to exercise them like Mr. MaGee does on your behalf. Went from hopeless to expecting a better outcome in a short period of time. Don't give up! Call Mr. MaGee to fight on your behalf. Highly recommended.
- M James, Family Law, from Google


James Magee is a great lawyer! Easy to work with!
- W Bauer, from Google

James Magee and his staff were professional and helpful through this difficult process. I would recommend him for anyone thinking about filing.

R Sherk, from Google


Mr. MaGee and his staff were helpful and we were able to complete the bankruptcy process successfully.

- D. Garrand, from Google

...Very pleased with the service we received on this difficult moment we went thru. I will recommend the office of Mr. MaGee.
- D. Perez, from Google

James MaGee, Attorney
Representation You Can Trust James MaGee offers his clients legal representation in matters of family law and bankruptcy in Washington state.
1426 Pioneer Way
Moses Lake, WA 98837
Phone: (509) 793-3974