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Ensuring a favorable result  in Washington’s family court system means knowing the ins and outs of our county and state laws. For cases that involve potentially tricky familial issues like divorce, custody, or inheritances it pays to have a local legal team, familiar with Washington’s legal standards as well as the ecosystem they exist in. Our family law team has been working in King, Pierce, and Snohomish county family court systems for over a decade. We understand how to win family law cases in Washington and the best approach for getting there.

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Types of
Family Law Cases

Family legal disputes can arise when one person suffers harm from an accident or conflict and a family member is involved.

  • Divorce or Dissolution

  • Spousal Support, Maintenance

  • Alimony, Annulment

  • Legal Separation

  • Property and Debt Dividion

  • Collaborative Divorce

  • Military Divorce

  • High Net Worth Divorce

  • Child Custody

  • Visitation Rights and

  • Schedules

  • Parenting Plans

  • Child Support

  • Grandparent Rights

  • Paternity

  • Guardianship

  • Order Modification

  • Marriage in Washington

  • Prenuptial Agreements

  • Common Law Marriage

  • Cohabitation Agreements

  • Property Agreements

  • Mediation

  • Domestic Violence Protection Orders

  • Adoption Finalization

  • Stepparent Adoption

  • Private Adoption

  • International Adoption

  • Kinship Adoption

  • Adult Adoption

  • Agency Adoption

  • Department of Children, Youth and Families Adoptions

Familially based civil proceedings are typically less about damages than outcomes. They may include a wide range of topics, from custody or visitation, to finalizing a divorce, to end of life planning.

How to Hire a Family Lawyer

Hiring a family lawyer can be nerve wracking. Your attorney should have deep experience in the technicalities of Washington state family law. You also want to feel comfortable that they understand the often complex and always nuanced family dynamics that can influence family law cases and how to manage them.

That’s why It’s important to look for an outcome focused law firm that understands not just how to win your case, but to successfully resolve conflict. That may include mediation, negotiated settlements, and even one on one counseling. When that’s not possible, they should be a fierce advocate for you and your loved ones, while maintaining compassion and trust.

Hiring a family lawyer can be nerve wracking. Your attorney should have deep experience in the technicalities of Washington state family law. You also want to feel comfortable that they understand the often complex and always nuanced family dynamics that can influence family law cases and how to manage them.

That’s why It’s important to look for an outcome focused law firm that understands not just how to win your case, but to successfully resolve conflict. That may include mediation, negotiated settlements, and even one on one counseling. When that’s not possible, they should be a fierce advocate for you and your loved ones, while maintaining compassion and trust.

Our Approach to Family Law

Our team understands how sensitive your family law case is and we’re here to help. Whenever possible, we focus on restorative solutions that allow opposing parties to come to an amicable resolution. When a negotiated solution isn’t possible, we’ll work to represent your interests by establishing your position and legal standing, meeting with the opposing party’s legal counsel and, if necessary, representing you in court. In both cases, you can be confident that you’ll have a hard-working and experienced team of family lawyers on your side.

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Brumley’s team of family lawyers offers specialized civil litigation services to families and individuals in all areas of family law in Washington State, from separation to children’s advocacy. We are poised to help if you are experiencing marital problems and seeking representation regarding a divorce or legal separation. Our team is highly adept in handling issues of child custody and visitation as well as spousal and child support. We care about you as an individual and focus on treating every client with compassion and respect while working tenaciously to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation.

We are skilled negotiators and accomplished trial attorneys who are ready to negotiate, mediate or litigate to obtain the most favorable results for your family. We understand how difficult and sometimes emotionally painful family law cases can be so we strive to minimize your stress, avoid unnecessary litigation and will work diligently to resolve your case favorably in a timely manner.

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Ask Our Family Lawyers


Common law marriage is not recognized in Washington. If parties lived in a state previously that did recognize common law marriages and they separate in Washington, they may be able to file suit and request for the court to treat the matter as such, based on that state’s laws.

Washington has created committed intimate relationship situations to address relationships in which the parties chose not to get married, but live in a marriage-like relationship, sharing assets and liabilities. If you choose to end this relationship, this allows the court to assist in dividing the assets and liabilities. This is the only relief provided for persons who have chosen to be in this situation. Spousal maintenance is not available as it is considered a benefit of marriage only. If children are at issue in this type of situation, it is considered a separate issue to be resolved through establishing a parenting plan and child support.

Washington is an equitable division state. There are several factors in determining how property/liabilities are divided. It is not necessarily 50/50. The court will look at each of the party’s separate property/liabilities and then the community property/liabilities. The community property will be split in a way where possible that based on a person’s separate property/liabilities, the community property will be split to ensure each party leaves with as close to a 50/50 situation in total, meaning the community property could be a 60/40 division or otherwise.

Community property/liabilities begins from the date of marriage for anything acquired/incurred and ends on the date of separation (not necessarily a legal separation).

Yes, there are some things that can be considered separate such as an inheritance, a house purchased prior to marriage, student loans, or some settlements, etc. It depends on how it is treated during the marriage whether it can become a community property/liability.

Spousal maintenance is determined based on several factors including the length of the marriage, level of education, work experience, any disabilities, whether a party was/was not working during the relationship, whether there is a need and ability for the other party to be pay, among other issues. There is no certainty whether a person will receive spousal maintenance.

Temporary orders are entered to have something in place while the case is pending through the courts. In King or Pierce County it can take a year or longer to resolve some cases. Temporary orders can address who stays in a home, pays the bills, spousal maintenance, a parenting schedule, child support, restraining order, etc. This helps the parties to understand the court’s position and may assist in guiding parties during mediation or to determine whether it appears a trial may be necessary.

Washington does not approach this in a manner of who gets legal custody. While one party may be considered primary custodian based on the parenting schedule, both parents have rights regarding the children. Each parent’s role in their child’s life will be considered in determining what the best schedule is for the child. There are factors that should be provided at the start of a case if there are safety concerns, the court may decline to hear issues later if they are not brought at the beginning of a case, unless they were not known at the time of filing.

Washington bases child support strictly on each party’s income and has created their formula of what is appropriate for child support, which is considered the standard calculation. In situations where state assistance is involved the child support is often required to be the standard calculation, there are few exceptions.

If there is no state assistance a deviation may be possible dependent on other factors, but the court can reject this, even if the parties agree. The child is expected to be financially supported by both parents. Part-time employment will often be considered being underemployed and income will likely be imputed to full time based on hourly rate of pay.

A domestic violence protection order is permitted for individuals who have some sort of relationship, whether it be intimate partners or family, there are other types of protection for other situations. Most often parties will receive a temporary protection order until the court can hold a full hearing allowing each party to provide their evidence as to why/why not the court should enter a protection order.

A restraining order can only be obtained in an ACTIVE law matter such as a divorce or in a parenting plan action.

They essentially both offer the same type of protection but are dependent on your particular circumstances.

The only method to terminate a parent’s rights is through adoption. You may be able to get restrictions in a parenting plan, however the court expects both parents to support their child financially and for this reason will not allow termination of a parent’s rights outside of adoption.

The other parent must be notified of an adoption filing unless their rights have been terminated due to a dependency action through the courts, filed by the department of child protective services. There are several types of adoptions and each have their own requirements. We will only address step-parent adoptions here.

Step-parent adoption

If your spouse wants to adopt your child and the other parent either consents or has been absent, you may have the ability to pursue this action. Efforts will be required to locate and notify the other parent to allow the adoption to be completed. All adoptions require at a minimum a post-placement report by an independent social worker approved by the court to determine whether the adoption should be permitted. This requires a fee in addition to the court costs.

There have been several changes in the law this year that have complicated this situation. This used to often be a non-parental custody action. This is no longer an option. See information below for other methods.

Minor Guardianship

There are several options under a minor guardianship such as a simple power of attorney to temporary custody to full custody. There are several requirements to obtain any one of these and should be discussed regarding your particular situation.

Defacto parentage

Defacto parentage is a situation where a third-party acts as the parent and considers themselves to be the parent of a non-biological child. Adoption should be considered in determining whether this is an appropriate method to pursue. The Petition cannot move forward until the court reviews the Petition and any supporting documentation to decide whether this is appropriate to pursue.

Relative Visitation

This is a method provided in which a child has a strong bond with a third party that a parent has suddenly prevented the person from seeing the child and allows a person to request visitation. There must be substantial proof of the 3rd party’s relationship provided at the start as the court will review the Petition and supporting documents before determining whether the matter can move forward to a hearing.

The court offers two methods for modifying a parenting plan, both require adequate cause and each have specific requirements to allow the matter to go forward. A person may request a minor modification or major modification.

Minor Modification

This method may be used to make minimal changes in the parenting plan to include the number of days with a parent which is limited in scope. This could essentially be completed in one hearing or continue on with a trial depending on the individual circumstances of each case.

Major Modification

Major modification is only permitted when there is a change in the other party or the child and requires a much higher threshold to be met. If the court has found a party to be in contempt on at least two occasions, this may be used as the basis to allow the matter to proceed. Each situation should be considered individually in determining whether this is an option.

In any situation where a child is involved, mediation will always be required. At this time the court is often requiring all cases to enter into mediation before going to trial due to a backlog as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the court system (at least in King and Pierce County).

Mediation involves having a 3rd party assist the parties in working on an agreement on all issues before the court. The mediators each have their own fees and requirements and each individual’s situation will determine how to best complete this process.

Settling Your Family Case

Family court cases can turn on a number of factors, but often rest as much on the demonstrative personal history of each party as the technicalities of the law. This may include factors ranging from your personal job history, to the ability to maintain interpersonal relationships, past behavior patterns, et al. Many cases are solved in mediation and result in the awards like child custody, divorce settlements, distribution of shared assets, etc. As with all legal cases, it’s important to prove your standing and good record keeping plays an important role in many family decisions.


5 out of 5 Stars

“I had a really good start with this firm. They really did a good job helping me out with my case. They helped me out way more than what I had expected. I would highly recommend them.”

- Miguel,

5 out of 5 Stars

“Great and awesome Law Firm the office lady Sabrina is very nice and you know we all have our bad days but she seems to never have one, Josh is very knowledgeable and doesn't suck up to the prosecution and most importantly believes his clients and listen to his clients I would recommend them to anyone for any case.”

- D E,

5 out of 5 Stars

“Brumley Law Firm is an exceptional law firm with some of the best support staff and attorneys I have had the pleasure of working with. The staff promptly responds to me and works their hardest to get me answers to my questions. I really appreciate this hard working team who really puts their clients before anything else. Thank you BLF for all your help with winning my case!”

- Ken,
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Our experienced team of Family Lawyers are responsive to your needs and will guide you through this difficult process with expertise. Contact us now to discuss your case.

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