Helen Donigan

Professor Emeritus

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Education & Activities:

  • B.S., University of Nebraska, 1963
  • J.D., Gonzaga University School of Law, magna cum laude, 1976
  • Editorial Board, Gonzaga Law Review
  • Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, 2003-2006

Biographical Information

Prior to attending law school, Professor Donigan taught debate, speech, and drama in secondary schools in Kansas, Maryland and Nebraska. Her debate and forensics teams won recognition at the state competition in Kansas. An animated adaptation of Animal Farm, created in her English class, was purchased by the Nebraska Department of Education for statewide distribution. She also developed communication classes for special education students in Maryland and Nebraska school systems.

During law school, Professor Donigan was a member and Comment Editor of the Gonzaga Law Review. After law school, she was a managing attorney at Spokane Legal Services, where she represented low-income urban and reservation American Indians in federal, state, and tribal courts.

Professional Activities & Achievements

  • Chair, Washington State Supreme Court Task Force on Dissolution, 2007-09
  • Invited speaker, Oxford Round Table on Women’s Leadership, Exeter College, England, 2006
  • Washington Supreme Court Gender and Justice Commission, 1997-2005
  • Member, Public Legal Education Council 2000-2002
  • Committee on the Law of Commerce in Cyberspace, Washington State Bar Assoc., 1990-2001
  • Access to Justice Technology Bill of Rights Committee, 2001
  • Access to Justice, Education Committee, chair 1999-2000
  • Commissioner, Washington State Human Rights Commission, 1990-98
  • Founding member, Spokane Task Force on Race Relations, 1996
  • Leadership Award for work in Government, YWCA, Spokane County, 1994
  • Domestic Relations Task Force on Mandatory Forms, 1990-93
  • Executive Board, Family Law Section, Washington Bar Association, 1981-92
  • Expert Witness, Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Judicial District of Calgary, 1991
  • Chair, Family Law Executive Committee, Washington State Bar Association, 1989-90
  • Washington State Child Support Schedule Commission, 1987-90, Chair, 1988-90
  • Professional of the Year Award, Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section, 1989
  • Client Relations Steering Committee, Office of Support Enforcement, 1987
  • Steering Committee & Workshop Facilitator, Washington State Legislative Conference on the Economics of Child Support, Paternity, and Custody, 1983-84
  • American Bar Association, Family Law Section Committee on Paternity, 1984
  • Executive Committee, American Association of Law Schools, Women in Legal Education Section, 1981
  • Interdisciplinary Committee on Joint Custody, a committee of legislators, lawyers, psychologists, judges, social workers, and concerned parents who coordinated efforts for custody legislation, 1981-82
  • Advisory Board, 10th Annual Far West Regional Conference on Women & the Law, University of Washington Law School, Spring & Summer, 1980
  • Spokane County Community Services Program Administrative Board, 1980-83, Chairperson, 1981-83

Publications

  • Editorial Board, WASHINGTON FAMILY LAW DESKBOOK (Wash. State Bar Assn. 2000-2006)
  • Consulting Editor, WASHINGTON FAMILY LAW DESKBOOK (Wash. State Bar Assn. 1989, 1991, 1996)
  • Ch. 46, “Custody Proceedings: Jurisdiction and Full Faith and Credit,” WASHINGTON FAMILY LAW DESKBOOK (Wash. State Bar Assn. 2006); replacing prior chapters in 1989, 1996, and 2000). (Three year supplement completed in 2009 for 2010 edition.)
  • Ch. 15, “Divisible Divorce—Jurisdiction, Venue, Commencement,” WASHINGTON FAMILY LAW DESKBOOK (Wash. State Bar Assn. 1989 and Supp. 1996) (with others); 2d ed 2000 and Supp. 2006. (Six year supplement completed in 2009 for 2010 edition.
  • “Calculating and Documenting Child Support Awards Under Washington Law,” 26 Gonzaga Law Review 13 (1991)
  • “Modification of Matrimonial Determinations,” FAMILY LAW & PRACTICE, (Matthew Bender 1990
  • “A Look at the New Child Support Schedule,” 42 Washington State Bar News 9-12 (Nov 1988)
  • “Child Neglect and Dependency Actions: Uncertainty Under the UCCJA,” 49 Albany Law Review 787 (1985). Summary reprinted, 35 Law Review Digest, No. 4, p. 15 (Callaghan, July/August, 1986)
  • “A Child Is Missing,” 39 Washington State Bar News, No. 3, p. 10 (March, 1985)
  • “Child Custody Jurisdiction—New Legislation Reflects Public Policy Against Parental Abduction,” 19 Gonzaga Law Review 1 (1983)
  • “Case Law Update,” Family Law Newsletter, Washington State Bar Association (July, 1987)
  • “Case Law Update,” Family Law Newsletter, Washington State Bar Association (April, 1987)
  • “Case Law Update,” Family Law Newsletter, Washington State Bar Association (January, 1987)
  • “Case Law Update,” Family Law Newsletter, Washington State Bar Association (December, 1986)
  • “Increased Criminal Sanctions for Custodial Interference: Changes in R. C. W. 9A.40.050 and 18 U.S.C. 1073,” Family Law Newsletter, Washington State Bar Association (August, 1985)
  • “Coverdell Revisited: Can Foster Parents Intervene in a Dependency Action Under R.C.W. 26.27, the UCCJA?,” Family Law Newsletter, Washington State Bar Association (March, 1983)

Presentations & Speaking Engagements

  • Jurisdictional Conflicts with Tribal and State Court Custody Orders, Washington State Judges Fall Conference, Ocean Shores, Washington, October 6, 2009
  • Panel, “Ethics in the Courtroom: Interpreter, Attorney, and Judge’s Ethics Considerations when Litigants are LEP,” WASCLA Summit, Washington State University, October 17, 2009
  • Panel, “Responding to Ethical Issues,” Family Law CLE, Gonzaga Law School, Spokane, Washington, November 13, 2009
  • Panel, “Marriage, Domestic Partnerships, and Meretricious Relationships: Washington’s Developing Landscape,” Washington State Board of Bar Governors Forum, Gonzaga Law School, Spokane, Washington, April 25, 2008
  • Panel, “Lincoln on Professionalism,” Washington State Bar Association, Doubletree Hotel, Spokane, Washington, April 15, 2009
  • “Interstate Custody,” 49th Annual Washington State Judicial Conference, Spokane Washington, 2006
  • “Recent Federal and State Legislative Changes — The Case of the Missing Contestant,” Washington State Superior Court Judges’ Association Spring Meeting, 2001
  • “Biological Parents v. Caretakers,” Washington State Trial Lawyers Assn. 5th Annual Family Law Seminar, Spokane, Washington, November, 1993
  • “Family Law Forms – The Latest Edition,” Washington State Trial Lawyers Assn. 4th Annual Family Law Seminar, Seattle, Washington, October, 1992
  • “Family Law Update,” Spokane County Bar Assn., Spokane, Washington, February, 1992
  • “Changes in the Washington State Child Support Schedule,” Superior Court Judges Association Spring Conference, Silverdale, Washington, April, 1991
  • “Discretion in the Child Support Schedule,” Washington State Family Support Council General Conference, Everett, Washington, September, 1990
  • Washington Women Lawyers, panel presentation, May 1, 1990
  • “The Washington State Child Support Schedule,” Superior Court Judges Association Spring Conference, Silverdale, Washington, April, 1990
  • Guest speaker, Washington Family Support Council, September, 1990
  • “Report on Washington State Child Support Schedule Commission and Support Modification,” Washington State Bar Association; Seattle, Spokane, and Bellingham, Washington, November 6, 13, 21, 1987
  • “1986 Supreme/Appellate Court Case Review,” Spokane County Bar Association, Continuing Legal Education Seminar; Spokane, Washington, December 19, 1986
  • “Conflicts in Forums & The Rights of Nonparents,” Washington State Bar Association, Family Law Section Mid-Year Seminar; Bellevue, Washington, June 28-29, 1985; Spokane, Washington, June 21-22, 1985
  • “Child Snatching,” Washington State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Seminar; Seattle, Washington, March 15, 1985
  • “Custody Jurisdiction,” 14th Annual Far West Regional Conference on Women and the Law; Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College; Portland, Oregon, October 13, 1984
  • “Child Snatching, An Overview,” Washington State Bar Association; Vancouver, B.C., September 13, 1984
  • “Child Snatching, New Developments in Federal Legislation,” Rights of the Child Seminar, Thomas More Scholarship Program, Gonzaga University School of Law, March 3, 1984
  • “The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980,” Family Law Section Mid-Year Meeting; Seattle, Washington, March 25-27, 1983. (reprinted for a Washington Trial Lawyer’s Conference in Sun Valley)
  • “Child Custody,” Spokane County Bar Seminar; Spokane, Washington, December 17, 1982
  • Washington Bar Bri Bar Review, Family Law Chapter, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Legal & Professional Publications (1981)
  • “Custody—Technical Legal Aspects,” 10th Far West Regional Conference of Women and the Law, University of Washington Law School; Seattle, Washington, October 18, 1980
  • “Jurisdiction in Custody Preparation,” 10th Far West Regional Conference of Women and the Law, University of Washington Law School; Seattle, Washington, October 19, 1980
  • “The UCCJA—Selected Questions, Children of Divorce,” Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, Washington, April 4, 1980

Teaching Areas

  • Advanced Family Law
  • Introduction to Family Law
  • Payment Systems
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Remedies
  • Sales