Friday, June 4, 2021

Community Property/Separate Property

There are nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In these states, all property of a married person is classified as either community property (owned jointly by both spouses) or the separate property of one spouse.

In some of those states, once the property is "characterized" as separate property, the court loses the power to give it to the other spouse. Other states are like Washington in that the court must characterize the property before making a "just and equitable distribution," but that "just and equitable distribution" can include giving separate property to the other spouse.

These cases can get very complex in the determination of whether property is separate or community, and during the course of those cases clients often learn that they should have (or should not have) gotten a prenuptial agreement, or a property agreement, or they learn many other aspects of the law that lead them to wish they had better prepared for a possible divorce.

At Mason Law, Craig Mason has years of experience with these matters in Spokane County and other Eastern Washington counties. Call Mason Law at 509-443-3681.  And for further reading see In re Marriage of Kile & Kendall, 186 Wash. App. 864, 347 P.3d 894 (2015), a case in which a Mr. Mason's appeal reversed the legal errors of a very smart judge -- community property law is simply that tricky to understand.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Non-Parental Actions are No More in Washington.

The legislature has just repealed the non-parental custody statute (RCW 26.10) and has moved similar actions under the Guardianship Statute (RCW 11.130).

If you are concerned about the well-being of a child, the facts you must provide to the court to become the guardian of the child are similar to those necessary under the old statute.

The legal standard is that no parent of the minor is willing or able to exercise parenting functions.  Parenting functions are defined as the ability and willingness to feed, clothe, care for, educate and protect the child.

The new statute also has complicated how and when the state must provide an attorney to the child or to parents who might lose their children. 

Here at Mason Law, Craig Mason has seen cases through many changes in statutes and case law over the years, and he can help you negotiate these new legal standards.  Call Mason Law, Spokane, WA, at 509.443.3681 if you need help becoming the guardian of a child. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Let’s Begin the New Year with some Important Information.

Washington repealed its Non-Parental Custody Act (RCW 26.10), and as of December 31, 2020, orders final by that date shall remain in effect as final orders, but any pending case is automatically dismissed and must be re-filed under the new Guardianship Statute (RCW 11.130.185 and related statutes).

The key showing that must be made under the new statute is: “clear and convincing evidence” there is no parent of the minor child willing or able to perform “parenting functions.”

Parenting functions are all the ways in which one nurtures a child: feeding, clothing, loving, educating, and financially supporting.

Frankly, no one is sure where this new statute will lead, as statutes require years of court interpretation before the doctrines are clarified.  But Mason Law of Spokane, WA, has been through statutory changes before, and will go through them again.  If you have a grandchild, niece, nephew, or other child, whose parents cannot care for them, and you wish to step in, call Craig Mason of Mason Law in Spokane, WA, at 509-443-3681 to discuss the facts of your situation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

We at Mason Law Wish You a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

The holidays will be difficult this year as we continue under the threat of COVID-19, and the restrictions that follow from it. The Spokane County courts have indicated that the disease is not an excuse to deviate from any of the parenting plans. All parents should still be able to see their children as ordered, and that is a blessing in these hard and unusual times -- the blanket rule is keeping people out of court, and, hopefully, in the Christmas spirit.

I am thankful that I have so much word-of-mouth business that I have to advertise very little.  I like to think that it is because I maintain the spirit of reconciliation and understanding all year long.  Yes, I fight when I have to do so, and I fight well, but my real expertise is in finding creative solutions that meet the needs of all parties sufficiently that "peace" can be found in the difficult process of divorce or other family law conflict.  No matter how calmly or heatedly a case begins, sooner or later it ends.  And if parents can think of their children, or the husband and wife can think of the other, then the case ends better for all in the long run.

So, let's end this year, and enter the next, remembering that a relationship ending, or a new dispute being addressed, can always benefit from opening your heart to the interests and needs of others.  In other words, may you enjoy your Christmas holidays, and carry a bit of that spirit with you all next year.  Best wishes from Mason Law, Spokane, WA - (509) 443-4681.

Monday, November 2, 2020

It’s Mine…No it’s Mine!

In a divorce, the ideas of "mine" and "hers or his" often come up.  However, unless there was a clear property agreement, the marriage "owns" the labors of each spouse, and all that flowed from that labor.  It is community property.  One of the partners did nothing and the other did "all the work?"  It does not matter.  You were married, and the property purchased with the fruits of that labor is community property.  Property is presumed to be community unless factors showing a separate source (such as inheritance or property owned prior to marriage) can be proven.

Courts must "characterize" property as "separate" or "community," and then the judge must make a "just and equitable" distribution of that property. And Washington has been a "no fault" state for nearly fifty years, and other than the most egregious "wasting" of assets, who earned the wealth and who consumed it will not matter to the court. In fact, if the one who consumed the assets cannot make a living, then spousal maintenance will likely be ordered until the non-working spouse has time to develop the skills to be able to make a living.

For dealing with the complex issues of "my property" versus "his or her property" contact Mason Law of Spokane, Washington at 509-443-3681, as Craig Mason has deep experience in these property issues. (For example search "Kile v. Kendall" or "Marriage of Kile" for a seminal case in which Mr. Mason won an appeal based upon these principles.) You may also use the website to contact Mason Law.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Stress of Divorce and DUI and DV

Divorce or the separation of co-habitating parents is extremely stressful. People often get their first DUI, or their first domestic violence (DV) charge, when going through the dissolution of their relationship.

Saying this is not to excuse it, but to point to the facts of just how emotionally difficult the process can be, and the unfortunate impact these emotions can have on behavior.

I would not be the lawyer for your fifth DUI when you need to pay an expensive expert to attack the breathalyzer or the blood draw.  However, I have a lot of experience in negotiating a resolution of the criminal case of a good person who responded badly to the stress of a family law crisis, and who previously had little or no interaction with the criminal justice system.

My name is Craig Mason, and my office staff and I are happy to help you through these hard times. My office is in Spokane, and I have recently handled cases in Benton, Franklin, Whitman, Stevens, Lincoln, Adams, and Pend Oreille counties as well. Give me a call at (509) 443-3681. Please check out my website at

Monday, August 31, 2020

Spokane is My Home

Beautiful Spokane and the surrounding area of Eastern Washington is where I was born and raised, with most lines of my family having homesteaded in the Davenport and Reardan areas in the 1860’s and ‘70’s, and others locating in Montana and North Idaho before 1900.

I worked my way through SFCC and EWU and then went to the University of Washington for my master’s in sociology and my J.D. with high honors and was an author and editor in the U.W. Law Review.

On top of the years of legal work I have also taught at The University of Washington, WSU-Tri-Cities, Columbia Basin Community College, Gonzaga University, and Eastern Washington University. I have seen many former students in the practice of law in the Tri-cities and Spokane.

I strive to maintain the decency and practicality of my family’s traditions in my practice of law. (My two grown children, who also exhibit these traits, give me hope that I am succeeding.)

My name is Craig Mason. I wanted you to know a bit about me before you make that call looking for the right family attorney you can trust to handle the process and navigate through the family courts of Washington State. I hope we can sit down and review your specific needs. Please call my office at W. 1707 Broadway in Spokane (509) 443-3681.