Making a difference in our community.

Our Mission:

Central Washington Legal Aid is a nonprofit organization that serves the most vulnerable members of our community by providing expedited and intensive legal advocacy and problem-solving strategies. We strive to change the culture of the legal field by prioritizing and understanding the populations we serve.

Call the CLEAR Hotline to find out if you qualify for free legal help.

Led by great attorneys who really care about the community, a good resource for those in need, and a great place to volunteer your time. Everyone is very kind and supportive.


— Community Member

Yakima County Volunteer Attorney Services is heading in the right direction. They have hired a stellar, experienced, and honest attorney as executive director.


— Community Member

Impact of Domestic Violence on Parenting Plans and Divorces in Washington State

Impact of Domestic Violence on Parenting Plans and Divorces in Washington State
 

By Wendy Winfield, Family Support Staff Attorney

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that significantly impacts family dynamics, particularly during divorces and the establishment of parenting plans. In Washington State, like in many jurisdictions, the presence of domestic violence can complicate legal proceedings and profoundly influence decisions regarding child custody, visitation rights, and overall family safety.

Legal Framework

Washington State law recognizes the detrimental effects of domestic violence on families and has specific provisions to address these issues within the context of divorce and parenting plans. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) emphasizes the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of children and parents who are victims of domestic violence.  Under RCW 26.09.191(2)(a)(iii) a parent's residential time with the child shall be limited if it is found that the parent has engaged in a history of acts of domestic violence as defined in RCW 7.105.010.  RCW 7.105.010(9) defines domestic violence as: Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; nonconsensual sexual conduct or nonconsensual sexual penetration; coercive control; unlawful harassment; or stalking of one intimate partner by another intimate partner or one family or household member by another family or household member.

Impact on Parenting Plans

When domestic violence is a factor, the court's primary concern is the safety of the children and the victimized parent. In cases where domestic violence has occurred or is suspected, the court may order protections such as:

Restraining Orders and Protection Orders: Issuing restraining and/or protection orders to prevent the abuser from contacting or coming near the victim and the children.  Generally, Protection Orders are more protective than Restraining Orders.

Supervised Visitation: Mandating that visitation with the children be supervised by a professional or a non-professional supervisor to ensure the safety of the children during their visits with the other parent.

Limiting Parenting Time: Restricting or limiting the abuser's parenting time if it's deemed unsafe for the children or the other parent.

Parenting Plan Modifications: Modifying existing parenting plans to accommodate safety concerns, possibly including changes to visitation schedules or locations.

Court Considerations

During divorce proceedings or when establishing parenting plans, the court considers evidence of domestic violence seriously. This includes police reports, medical records, witness statements, and testimony from experts, such as therapists or Guardian Ad Litems/Court Visitors, who can be used to investigate issues important to deciding the Parenting Plan. Courts generally assess the nature, frequency, and severity of the abuse, as well as any history of protective orders or criminal convictions related to domestic violence.

Protecting Victims

Washington State law aims to protect victims of domestic violence by offering legal remedies that prioritize safety. This includes provisions for emergency protection orders and legal assistance to help victims navigate the complexities of divorce and parenting plan proceedings.

Challenges and Considerations

Despite legal protections, navigating the legal system as a victim of domestic violence can be challenging. Victims may face difficulties in presenting evidence, fear retaliation from the abuser, or struggle with financial constraints that limit their access to legal representation.

Conclusion

In Washington State, as in many places, the impact of domestic violence on parenting plans and divorces is profound. The legal system strives to protect victims and their children while ensuring fair and just outcomes in divorce and parenting plan cases. By prioritizing safety and considering the unique circumstances of each case, courts play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of domestic violence on families. Ultimately, the goal is to create parenting arrangements that promote the well-being of children and provide a safe environment for all family members involved.

 

We are hiring a new Housing and Family Law Paralegal!

Job Title: Housing and Family Law Paralegal

Reports to: CWLA Staff Attorneys

Location: Yakima, Washington

About Central WA Legal Aid (CWLA)

CWLA is a non-profit organization that serves the most vulnerable of our community by providing expedited and intensive legal advocacy and problem-solving strategies.  We strive to change the culture of the legal field by prioritizing and understanding the populations we serve.

 

We exist to bring passionate and unencumbered legal advocacy to the most vulnerable populations in our community.

Job Description

CWLA is looking for a highly motivated, outgoing, detail-oriented, and organized person to join our team. The key to success in this role is having a high level of responsibility and a desire to help with an expedited sense of urgency.  This person needs to be able to work well with clients, have flexibility and communication skills to work well with three staff attorneys, have an interest in access to justice, speak Spanish, and handle housing and family law matters.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

Clerical/administrative/office tasks as assigned.

Preparing and editing correspondence and legal documents independently and consistent with attorney instructions.

Completing intakes with clients and maintaining legal files and records using CWLA's case management system.

Managing filing and notice deadlines and important hearing and appointment dates and office calendars.

Assisting the Family Support Staff Attorney in preparing legal documents for family law cases.

Assisting the Landlord-Tenant Attorneys in preparing legal documents for landlord-tenant cases.

Assisting in client communication often in the Spanish language, document gathering, limited computer-assisted legal research

Coordinating client/interpreter/attorney scheduling, communicating regularly with clients, opposing counsel, and community partners

Performing investigative work (researching facts, gathering client evidence and declarations, access databases, etc.) as requested.

Maintaining a professional working relationship with clients and the community.  Maintain a professional working relationship with our community partners.

Being present in the office to greet CWLA clients, both scheduled and "walk in" clients.

Maintaining a safe, open, and accepting workplace.

Participating in and implementing practices from ongoing race equity education and trauma informed advocacy trainings.

Conduct client intakes for Housing Justice Project and Family Support Program.

Creating and maintaining legal files and records using Legal Server.

Maintain regular client contact through phone, email, and mail. Remind clients of upcoming appointments and deadlines.  Gather new facts, documents, and updates.

Conduct timely client intakes on all referrals to determine eligibility. Schedule and re-schedule appointments as needed.  

Maintain client filed in all case and document management platforms.  

Update shared calendar system for all team members.  

Review and prepare case documents, file with Court, serve opposing parties, and provide proof of service to attorney and Court

Assist team members in communication with opposing counsel, court clerks, and judicial assistants.

Attend and take notes of all meetings with partner organizations where attorneys are present. 

Secretarial duties such as copying, scanning, filing, editing, and maintaining physical office.

Develop and maintain a fruitful collaboration with program staff and other volunteer lawyer programs across the state.

Attorneys may work in the office or remotely, so this position requires the ability to work well without direct supervision and must have the communication skills to be able to work with two different lawyers remotely.

Capturing data accurately and noting special client stories for grant reporting. 

Must be flexible to work outside of these duties as assigned.  

 

Essential Qualifications

Associate degree, paralegal certificate or an equivalent combination of education and experience sufficient to perform the essential elements of the job

Experience working in non-profit or legal organizations

Ability to maintain confidentiality

Ability to work with attorneys

Excellent organizational skills with ability to coordinate and prioritize multiple projects

Ability to learn quickly, pay exceptional attention to detail, and engage in critical thinking and problem solving while maintaining a high level of quality and productivity

Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills (both telephone and in person)

Ability to work with a diverse population and maintain composure in stressful situations

Fluent in spoken and written Spanish. 

Experience working with migrant communities, communities of color and Spanish speaking individuals

Strong desire to serve the public and reduce barriers for low income individuals in our community

Experience in internet navigation and in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook (proficiency in Legal Server a plus)

Valid driver’s license and insurance

Day/Hours and Benefits

Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday (some nights and weekends on occasion).

Pay: $18.00 - $22.00 an hour DOE, this is a nonexempt position.

Benefits: Health insurance stipend and paid vacation.

Send resume and cover letter describing experience and interest in the position to: 
Quinn Dalan, director @ cwlegalaid.org.

Application Deadline: rolling deadline, interviews to start as soon as applications are submitted

CWLA complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Yakima VAS promotes mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork and productivity in the workplace. People of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ, those with disabilities, mature workers, and other underrepresented and historically marginalized groups are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Job Type: Full-time

Summary of Repair Requirements for Landlords in Washington State

In Washington State, landlords have specific repair and maintenance obligations to ensure that rental properties are habitable and safe for tenants. Here are the key repair requirements that landlords must adhere to:

Maintaining a Habitable Premises: Landlords are legally required to provide tenants with rental units that are habitable. This means ensuring that the property meets basic health and safety standards, including proper sanitation, structural integrity, and adequate weatherproofing.

Repairs for Essential Services: Landlords must promptly repair or replace essential services, including heating, plumbing, electrical systems, and hot and cold running water. These repairs must be completed in a timely manner to avoid endangering the health or safety of tenants.

Remedying Dangerous Conditions: Landlords are responsible for addressing dangerous conditions on the property, such as faulty wiring, mold infestations, or broken stairs. They must take appropriate measures to remedy these hazards to prevent harm to tenants.

Providing Proper Maintenance: Landlords must conduct regular maintenance to ensure that the rental property remains in good condition. This includes addressing issues such as leaks, pest infestations, broken appliances, and damaged fixtures.

Responding to Tenant Requests: When tenants report repair issues or maintenance concerns, landlords are required to respond promptly and address the problem within a reasonable timeframe. Failure to do so could result in legal consequences for the landlord.

Maintaining Common Areas: If the rental property includes common areas such as hallways, stairwells, or outdoor spaces, landlords are responsible for maintaining these areas in a safe and clean condition.

Security and Safety Measures: Landlords must also take reasonable steps to ensure the security and safety of tenants, such as installing secure locks on doors and windows, providing adequate lighting in common areas, and addressing security risks on the property.

Legal Recourse for Tenants: If a landlord fails to fulfill their repair obligations, tenants have legal recourse available to them. This may include repairing the issue themselves and deducting the cost from rent, sending a bill for the cost of the repairs to the landlord directly, or seeking legal action against the landlord through Small Claims Court.

It's important for landlords in Washington State to familiarize themselves with these repair requirements and ensure compliance to maintain positive landlord-tenant relationships and avoid potential legal disputes.  If a tenant needs help with a landlord not making necessary repairs, they should call the Eviction Defense Line at 855-657-8387 to seek legal advice.