Toddler-age boy playing with a giant blue ball.

Your Guide to CASA Services

Definitions of certain phrases and words available at the end this guide.

Who is Family Law CASA?

Family Law CASA of King County is a nonprofit organization that helps children from low- and moderate-income families. We are not affiliated with Child Protective Services, law enforcement, or any other social service organization.

A dark blue basic outline of a person with zero features inside a circle.

What Does ‘CASA’ Mean?

CASA stands for “Court-Appointed Special Advocate.”
A dark blue basic outline of a dollar sign inside a circle.

How Much Do Services Cost?

At this time, services are available for free.
A dark blue outline of the globe with North America and South America visible.

Who Can Be a CASA?

CASAs come from all backgrounds and cultures.

What Services Do We Offer?

Family Law CASA services include interviews and investigations as described above. Volunteer advocates will write 1-2 reports for the Court and will appear at Court for a half day at trial if the case does not settle. The Family Law CASA Program Attorney will represent the CASA at Review Hearings, will be available by phone for mediation or settlement conference, will participate in the Pre-Trial Conference without the CASA, and will represent the CASA at trial, asking to be excused from the remainder of the trial.

How Do We Work?

Family Law CASA is appointed by the Court in high-conflict child custody cases to gather information and report back to the Court.

Family Law CASA uses lay-person volunteers from the community to gather information about the children’s circumstances and to provide written reports to the court, including recommendations about the parenting plan, residential schedule (visitation), and need for services.

A dark blue basic outline of a checklist with a large checkmark.

What Are The Qualifications?

CASAs come from a variety of variety of backgrounds, education levels, professions, trades, religions and cultures, but they all must: be at least 21 years old, be able to use a computer, pass a criminal background check, complete a minimum of 21 hours of intensive training, and follow the guidance of an Advocate Supervisor and Program Attorney. Continuing education is available.
A dark blue briefcase inside a circle.

What is the Role of a CASA?

CASAs are not your counselors, therapists, lawyers or advocates. The role of the CASA is to provide a voice for the child’s best interests in court. Family Law CASA will not represent or advocate for any of the parents in the case. Family Law CASA will not provide legal advice. You are encouraged to seek free or low-cost legal help and guidance.
A dark blue question mark inside a mark.

How Are CASAs Different?

If you’re familiar with Guardians ad Litem or Parenting Evaluators, know that CASAs are different. They play a more limited role, and they do it on a volunteer basis as everyday people with a variety of backgrounds – not just professionals. CASAs receive training, continuing education, and professional advocate supervisors provide support to CASAs during cases.

What Can I Expect?

When Family Law CASA is appointed to a case, a CASA will be assigned and will call or email you to schedule an interview. CASAs are supported by an Advocate Supervisor on staff with Family Law CASA. You should receive a letter listing the CASA’s name, as well as the Advocate Supervisor’s name. CASAs do not work at the Family Law CASA office. You may leave a message for your CASA or speak with the Advocate Supervisor by calling 206-748-9700. Usually, but not always, the CASA will ask to meet you in person at your home and will ask to tour your home to conduct a basic safety check of the environment. The CASA will typically ask to observe the child/children with you and to interview or talk with the child/children separately as well. Usually but not always, a CASA will attempt to see the children at each of the parents’/party’s homes 1 or 2 times during a case.
The CASA will ask you to provide names and phone numbers for 1-3 friends, relatives, and/or professionals who will talk with the CASA about your family’s circumstances.
The CASA will ask you to sign Release of Information forms to obtain information from CPS, schools, daycares, counselors, therapists, treatment providers and/or any professional(s) who might have information that will help the Court determine the safest and best parenting plan for the child/children.
Family Law CASA needs your cooperation and participation. You have the right to decline an interview, home visit/tour, request for information, or Release of Information forms. If you decline any of these requests, the CASA will note this for the Court. The CASA will continue to contact you until Family Law CASA is discharged by the Court.
Because the CASA has been appointed to investigate tough issues, they will ask tough, personal questions and will make tough recommendations. While the questions and/or recommendations may be uncomfortable, all parties are entitled to respectful interactions with Family Law CASA , and your participation in the process is much appreciated by Family Law CASA and the Court.
The information collected by CASAs is kept confidential and not shared with anyone who is not involved in the case. However, the CASA’s written report, which includes the gathered information, is submitted to the Court and all named parties. Family Law CASA does not have private or confidential conversations with any of the parties involved. CASAs and Staff at Family Law CASA are mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. This means that if they believe a child is in immediate danger, they must report it to Child Protective Services.
Since CASAs are volunteers, they may not always be able to respond to calls or emails right away due to limited availability. To schedule interviews, home tours, and child observations, we’ll find a time that works best for everyone involved. Please note that CASAs do not visit homes every week or every other week, nor do they conduct interviews on a weekly or every-other-week basis. Their time and capacity is limited.
The CASA is responsible for submitting written reports to the court about a case, which includes an or maybe two written reports to the court that will include an overview of information gathered. The report(s) will contain statements and information provided by the other parent/party. The report will also contain information provided by friends, relatives, and/or professionals. And the report will contain the CASA’s recommendations to the Court about the parenting plan. Usually one or two reports but sometimes, additional reports are required. These reports contain statements and information provided by both parties, their friends, relatives, and professionals involved. The CASA also makes recommendations to the Court about the parenting plan. It is common for one party to disagree with the information provided by the other party, but the CASA is required to include information from various points of view. If you disagree with the CASA’s conclusions or recommendations, you will have the opportunity to explain your position to the court. If there is an error in the report that affects your position or recommendations, please notify the Family Law CASA office immediately.

What Is My Responsibility?

It’s important to share any information you want to be considered for the Family Law CASA report as soon as possible. You can mail or deliver documents or letters to the Family Law CASA Office. Don’t wait for the CASAs to get information that you think is important. Volunteers have limited time and need to decide which records & documents to obtain, and which people to interview. If you think the CASAs missed an important interview, please ask that person to call the CASAs or contact the Family Law CASA office. If you think the CASAs didn’t get important records or documents from you, please submit those records or documents to the Family Law CASA office.

It is also important to keep the CASA and Family Law CASA office updated with any new contact information if you move or get a new phone number or email address. You should also tell Family Law CASA about any new developments in your case.

If you schedule a hearing with the Court, make sure you let Family Law CASA know in advance, and send copies of all documents to Family Law CASA as well as the other parent/parties involved. Finally, please note that Family Law CASA will only share information that is necessary for the Family Law CASA report, and will not file motions or engage in discovery requests for information outside of what is necessary for the report.

Glossary of Terms

Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

A CASA is a volunteer who works with a CASA organization to advocate for a child or sibling group. The court signs an order appointing the organization to a case. The organization recruit, trains and assigns the volunteer to the case.

Child Protective Services

Commonly called “CPS”, is the part of The Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) that investigates child abuse and neglect. DCYF is a WA government agency. Family Law CASA is a completely different agency.


“A person without professional or specialized knowledge in a particular subject”, although CASAs may have some professional experience outside of volunteering when they are on a Family Law CASA case, they do so as a Lay-person regardless of said experience.


Being asked by the court/judicial officer to serve in some capacity. In King county, Family Law CASAs are sometimes appointed to family law cases to provide the court information and recommendations, giving a voice to children by advocating for their best interest.

Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

A GAL is an individual appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child or incapacitated person involved in a case in a superior court. GALs can be expensive, but Family Law CASA provides a similar service at no cost to the parents.

Parenting Evaluators

A court-appointed expert who provides the court with information about the parents and what’s in the best interest of the child. Similar to a GAL. A parenting evaluation can be expensive, Family Law CASA provides a similar service with no cost to the parents.

Release of information (ROI) Forms

A form that allows the release of sensitive/confidential information or forms to a party not privileged to it.

Mandatory Reporters

A mandated reporter is a person who is required to report observed or suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services (per RCW 74.34.020(10).

Parenting Plan

Refers to a court order where parents are assigned “residential time” with their children, an allocation of which parents make decisions concerning the children. Parenting Plans can be either “temporary” (before the final order is made in the case), “permanent” (outlined in the final order), or “proposed” (suggested by one of the parties or CASA).

Mediation/Settlement Conference (Settle)

A process where all parties to a case meet with a mediator who tries to assist the parties in reaching an agreed final order or terms that can resolve the case before trial.  Offers made during this process may not be raised at trial in the event the case does not settle.

Pre-trial Conference (PTC)

A hearing that the court sets about 6 weeks before trial to determine the trial readiness of the case. 

Contact Our Office

Have questions or need assistance? We’re here to listen and support.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.