The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled that a parentage order is a custody decree that cannot be modified without adequate cause and a change of circumstances.                       

Background: In Parentage of C.M.F. the superior court issued a parentage order that designated an individual as the father, named C.M.F.’s mother “custodian solely for purpose of other

The Washington Supreme Court, through identical five-Justice majorities, announced two decisions expanding the definition of parent in the state.  In In the Matter of the Custody of B.M.H., the Court held that the judge-made concept of “de facto parenthood” still existed in Washington even though the legislature had subsequently recognized additional forms of families.  The Court then specifically held that former step-parents may get full parental rights over a non-biological child as a de facto parent.  In the related In the Matter of the Custody of A.F.J., the Court held that foster parents may also become de facto parents.  While the Court affirmed a four-part test to determine whether an individual had become a de facto parent, in both decisions, the Court’s key concern was whether the legal parent had consented to the arrangement.
Continue Reading Be Careful Who You Let Change the Diapers: Caregivers May Become “De Facto Parents”

The Washington Court of Appeals recently shed light on the reach of Washington’s Long-Arm Statute in divorce proceedings involving a long-distance marriage. In Oytan v. David-Oytan (PDF), the court addressed whether the responding party in dissolution, who has never lived full-time in Washington, can nonetheless be said to have “liv[ed] in a marital relationship within this state” and thus fall within the reach of Washington’s Long-Arm Statute? Applying the interpretive principle that different statutory terms must be presumed to have different meaning, the court ruled that the Long-Arm Statute clause “living in a marital relationship within this state” does not have the same meaning as “resident of the state.” Thus, the court ruled, full-time past residence is not required for personal jurisdiction to exist. Rather, whether personal jurisdiction exists must be considered in light of the totality of the circumstances surrounding the marriage whether the party had sufficient minimum contacts with the state.
Continue Reading Personal Jurisdiction in Long-Distance Marriage Dissolution: Past Full-Time Residency Not Required Says Washington Court of Appeals