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

Child Custody

The emphasis in the State of Washington is “primary placement”. In placing a child with one parent or sometimes equally with both parents the court looks at many factors. If there are issues relating to domestic violence, substance abuse, lack of acting like a parent or other factors, there might be conditions on placement. As noted in the section about parenting plans, Washington State provides for events, holidays, relocation, and issues that may arise in bringing up children. The important thing to remember about placement is that children are often times in the middle of the litigation whether it is a divorce or other action. Sometimes outsiders, like counselors or school personnel, are asked to give input. Most courts in the U.S. use the “best interests” standard when placing a child with a parent(s). That is a subjective standard based on information provided by the parents, lawyers and outsiders. The age of the child/children is another consideration because children have different needs when applying the best-interests criteria. There is no preference for either parent whether mom or dad. Although the courts may consider a teenager’s preference, there is nothing set in stone that says that children get to control the decision on placement.

To change placement there must be a change in circumstances. Sometimes a parent has to relocate for a job, the child has different needs that are better addressed with a new parenting plan, or one parent is unable to care for the child. Usually the parenting plan will provide for mediation first before going to court to address these issues.

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