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Bruce K Pruitt-Hamm
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Bruce Pruitt-Hamm’s Legal Cases

4 total

  • Private Interstate Adoption

    Practice Area:
    Adoption
    Date:
    Jan 01, 2010
    Outcome:
    Successful
    Description:
    The biological mother had more than 5 children removed from her custody and she knew this child would be too. She didn’t even know who the father was. And her good friend was willing to adopt the child before the child was even born. But Mom was on the East Coast and the adoptive parents in Stevens County. This meant the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (RCW 26.34) would apply, as well as the “normal” rules associated with adoptions and terminating or relinquishing parental rights that are found in RCW 26.33, Washington’s adoption statute. This would be an “open” adoption and the goal was to have everything in place so the adoptive parents could take the child home from the hospital after the birth. However, the child protective agency for the state of the birth was watching the biological mother closely and if they took legal custody of the child at birth the adoption would change from a “private adoption” to an “agency adoption”, which is much more complicated. Fortunately, I was able to find and work with an adoption attorney in the child’s birth state, whose services were paid (as were mine) by the adoptive parents. Fortunately, the adoptive parents were able to begin caring for the child immediately after birth. Unfortunately, the adoptive parents had to remain with the child on the East Coast while that state completed background checks that were heavily backlogged and delayed. Unfortunately, the entire cost of the adoption far exceeded a “normal” adoption because of the complications of the Interstate Compact, the cost of searching for the biological father to terminate his parental rights (a prerequisite to adoption where the mother consents) and the threat of state agency involvement. Despite the complications and cost, the adoption was finalized in a matter of months and a new family created for a fortunate child born to unfortunate circumstances.
  • The Hands that Hold the Child

    Practice Area:
    Child Custody
    Date:
    Jan 01, 2012
    Outcome:
    Successful
    Description:
    It is said that “the hands that hold the child hold tomorrow’s human harvest.” In this case, our client, a middle-aged man, came to us only a few years after the birth of his son to a woman not his wife who had subsequently become addicted. Ironically, he came first to inquire about defending himself against her fabricated charges of domestic violence. But that was just the beginning of the story. His primary concern all along was the welfare of his toddler son. After consulting on the domestic violence matter and helping him to successfully defend we turned our attention to establishing him as the primary parent of the child when Child Protective Services began investigating. CPS recommended the child be placed with the father because the mother was too unstable and still too drug addicted. Without hostility and with the heavy burden born of the dilemma of loving your child and also loving that child’s parent, our client took a firm stand to ensure that the mother sought and obtained treatment. Tragically, after we succeeded in obtaining a temporary parenting plan he died from a sudden heart attack. The child was again at risk since now the mother had superior legal rights of custody. Our client’s former wife and mother to the child’s half sibling stepped in with her new husband to courageously take the place of the now deceased father. We were able to successfully negotiate for them a Nonparental Custody Decree granting full legal rights to them for the care and custody of the child. Further, they were appointed to probate the deceased father’s estate for the benefit of the child. Through it all, this young boy was oblivious to the legal maneuvers that were necessary to keep his life intact and to keep him safe, providing the legal “hands that hold the child.”
  • Mediation on a Weekend

    Practice Area:
    Mediation
    Date:
    Jan 01, 2011
    Outcome:
    Successful
    Description:
    In this mediation of a husband and wife, the husband resided out of state and had to travel back to Washington to conduct the mediation at our office. Thus, he was eager to have the mediation take care of as much business as possible in a short period of time. In addition, the parties both worked and could not meet during the regular week day. Our office agreed to schedule the mediation on a Saturday and attempt to mediate all issues in one session. Not only did we mediate the issues, but we drafted all of the final pleadings within the afternoon.
  • Divorce, then Death, then Determination

    Practice Area:
    Divorce & Separation
    Date:
    Jan 01, 2012
    Outcome:
    Successful
    Description:
    Our original client was a woman with two adult children who finally had enough and was exploring the prospect of a divorce from an abusive husband. A few weeks after our divorce consultation, she was murdered by her husband. He was arrested the same day. Family members, aware that she had sought the advise of a lawyer came back to our office with the sad and tragic news. We then advised a legal strategy to keep the husband from acquiring or using any of the marital property for his criminal defense. We provided legal representation to the two young adult children to serve as co-executors on their mothers probate estate and to utilize complicated laws regarding survival actions, wrongful death suits by estate representatives, homestead statutes, the deadman statute, the slayer’s statute and other esoteric but vital legal maneuvers to position the children to prevent the father from grabbing and selling half of the estate to pay for his criminal defense for the murder of their mother. The mother’s plans for divorce were tragically ended with her death. But it was her children’s determination that prevented a subsequent tragedy.