The Burke Law Group, PLLC
Old City Hall Building
221 N. Wall St., Suite 624
Spokane, WA 99201

Main Office: (509) 466-7770
Collaborative Law: (509) 999-6747


The topic of adoption can include termination or relinquishment of parental rights and private versus agency adoptions. If Child Protective Services takes a child from the biological parents because there is a detriment to the care of the child and the parents cannot or will not reunify with the child within the time provided by law then the court may terminate the parents’ rights. This does not happen overnight. Sometimes the parents consent to terminating their parental rights, but the public policy is against doing so. Parents are given every opportunity to become parents and care for their children. In the event that parental rights are ended, the child/children become ward(s) of the state and can be placed up for adoption.

Adoption means that, for all intents and purposes, the child or children is the legal heir and legal child of the adopting parent(s). That means that if the adopting parent dies the child can inherit the parent’s property as though the child was actually born to that parent. If the adopted child is in a family that splits due to divorce, then one parent may have a duty to pay child support to the custodial parent. The saying is that “you get the benefit and the burden” when you adopt a child.

The court will require a placement report from someone authorized to make the report. The idea is to have a neutral determination of the stability of the adoptive home. This is true whether it is a private or stepparent adoption. There may also be a guardian ad litem appointed to represent the interests of the adopted child during the process.

Once the adoption decree is signed by the judicial officer the birth records for the child can be changed and the child is the legal child of the adopting parent(s).

Meet Our Attorneys

Dena Allen

Principal / Member of the Firm, practicing in Family Law Litigation, Collaborative Law Divorce, Cooperative Divorce, Adoptions, Estate Planning, and Probate

John Burke

Of Counsel, practicing in Collaborative Law for Divorce, Uncontested Divorce and Estate Planning. On medical leave.

Matthew Fischer

Principal / Managing Member of the Firm, practicing in all areas of Family Law Litigation, Divorce and Uncontested Divorce. Also serves as a Spokane County Superior Court Pro Tem Commissioner

Cathy Helman

Associate Attorney, practicing in Appeals, Probate, Estate Planning, Family Law, and Bankruptcy. Also is an Administrative Law Judge Pro Tem with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings.

Joseph Linehan

Of Counsel, practicing in Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) appeals, Family Law Litigation, Divorce, and Dependency. Also serves as a Spokane County Superior Court Pro Tem Commissioner

Robin Schmahl

Senior Associate Attorney, practicing in Family Law Litigation, Uncontested Divorce, Estate Planning, Probate, and Guardianship

Rhylee Smith

Associate Attorney, admitted to practice in Washington and Idaho, practicing in all aspects of Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody and Support, and Modifications to Existing Orders

Kenneth Zigler, Jr.

Of Counsel, practicing in Family Law Litigation, Divorce, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and SSI benefits, and Lawsuits and Disputes including Personal Injury

Joanna Stranger

Rule 9 Intern, practicing in Family Law and Divorce