Types of family law cases

There are many types of family law cases out there, each with a multitude of possible variables. If you were to add in third parties to a dissolution action or any other sort of case, the number of possible family law cases would exceed over a thousand in Washington State. Our own firm’s practice is predominately family law with a wide variety of types of cases we can take for a family law matter. For law firms, cases are like physical products. When you buy a new Mercedes, you receive a physical item like an S series, E series, or even a C series. Of course, Mercedes has more than one type of E series you can buy. In the family law business, it works in a very similar way. We have a variety of different areas of cases, but many distinct case types. We track over 47 different types of cases for our family law clients. These cases range from a divorce to a contempt action. Here’s a listing of many, but not all, of the types of cases we deal with everyday:



Third Party Custody – These cases are usually brought by our baby boomer clients, such as seniors who are grandparents.  Of our third party custody cases, all of our clients are baby boomers or seniors.  These difficult cases involve obtaining custody of a grandchild/children often from their own son or daughter. We’re one of two law firms that has an emphasis in this narrow practice area. We codes these as 3PC.
Adoption – Adopting a child, usually by a step-parent.
Anti-harassment protection order – AHPO – Simply when people are bugging other people and won’t quit after being told to stop.
Child Support Enforcement – When they don’t pay.
Child Support Issues – When there are disagreements as to what to pay and why.
Community Property Agreements – CPAs, not the accountant kind, a contract on what a couple considers to be jointly owned by the both of them.
Contempt of Court – Contempt – Refusal to follow court orders
Conversion – Turning a separation into a divorce or vice-versa.
Child Protective Services Review – CPS – agency that takes people’s kids…Reviewing what the State of Washington’s CPS does to people. The CPS does a lot of good work, but they also abuse their power. Alot.
Child Support Modification – Changing Child Support
Dependency – Representing people when CPS has tried to take custody away.
Dependency & Parenting Plan Modification – Hybrid case where State and father/mother are involved at same time.
Dissolution – The good ol’ fashion divorce. What started this law firm.
Divorce with Kids – Same as dissolution just with kids.
Domestic Partner Dissolution – Dissolving a domestic partnership, most gay domestic partnerships have been converted to marriage.
Gay Divorce – Same as regular divorce. Really no difference. I expect this term to decline in usage over the years.
Domestic Violence Protection Order – DVPO – A protection order that prevents husbands from being wife beaters or boyfriends from beating their girlfriends. I have seen a girlfriend that beat her boyfriend.
Enforcement – Or enforcement action – enforcing a court order already in existence.
Establishment of Parenting Plan – Getting a parenting plan put in place.
Family Law – The catch all – when you don’t know what type of family law case it is.
Legal Separation – Same as divorce except you aren’t divorce but can file taxes as “Married, filing separately”
Meretricious Relationship – When the government decides it is going to pretend you are married anyway, even though you never were.
Opposing Party – The bad guy
Sexual Harassment Protection Orders (SHPO) – A close relative of AHPO and DVPOs. We don’t take these cases.
Parentage – Getting a parenting plan when no one knows who the father is
Parentage-DVPO Hybrid – you don’t know who the father is and the person you think is the father is a wife beater.
Parenting Plan – Just a plan old fashion parenting plan, same as a establishment of parenting plan case.
Petition for Residence Schedule – Pet for RS – Same as parenting plan, but a little different
Post Decree Issues – when the orders are already in place, explaining them or figuring them out or implementing them.
Post Decree Enforcement – enforcing final court orders in any type of family law case.
Post Modification – Similar to post decree enforcement, now you are modifying existing court orders like trying to change custody.
Post-nuptial- Postnup – a prenup after you are married.
Parenting Plan Modification – PP Mod – Modifying a parenting plan…gaining custody or trying to get more/less visitation
Prenuptial – Prenup – when you are getting married and you want to cover your ass in case of divorce.
Pro Se – Self-represented individuals – we provide help to people who just want to get a little help…..
Pro Se Assistance – same as pro se.
Probate – Figuring out who gets what when someone dies.
Property Settlement Agreement – PSA – Prop Settl. – Figuring out who gets what when separating, similar to prenup/postnups
Qualified Domestic Relations Order – QDRO – when dividing up a pension or 401(k)
Relocation – When a parent wants to move either out of state or out of the school district.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act – UCCJEA – When a person takes a child out of state…which state hears the case?
Uncontested Divorce – when people are in agreement or the other side is no where to be found or not expected to dispute.
Divorce w/Kids & DVPO – The deadly combo, divorce with a DVPO (domestic violence protection order) mainly against the father…often used by devious attorneys to gain an upper hand in custody litigation.
Collaborative Divorce – when people agree that they don’t want to fight, but still have differences on who gets what.
Paternity – Don’t know whose child it is, similar to parentage, but a little different.
Name Change – When you want to change your name or a child’s name
Tax Issue – problems with the IRS.
Wills – When you want to figure out who gets what of yours before you die.


If you need help with your type of family law case and if you expect the case to be out of King, Snohomish, or Pierce County, you can call our office to schedule a consultation to review your case.

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