About David Starks

David Starks is McKinley Irvin's Managing Partner and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He focuses his practice in the Seattle and Bellevue offices on divorce cases involving difficult custodial matters and the protection, valuation and distribution of significant assets and business interests.

Early in his legal career David gained significant experience in maritime and securities law in both federal and state courts, as well as arbitrations, through the National Association of Securities Dealers. His litigation, arbitration and negotiation experience in family, business and commercial law make him particularly well qualified to represent divorce clients with financial, business, executive compensation or spousal maintenance interests at stake.

"My clients are real people leading active lives with a lot at stake in their cases. I don't forget that. Their concerns are my concerns. Their stress is my stress. Their worries are my worries."

David also continues to enjoy assisting clients through the challenges they face in other family law matters, including parenting modifications, relocations and other matrimonial litigation.

His passion for resolving complex family law matters has led David to routinely represent clients with international divorce and family law issues in both state and federal court.

David is the only fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in Washington State and one of a very small number of U.S. family law attorneys whose practice includes international family law and treaties, including the various Hague Conventions on abduction, maintenance, and the protection of children. He routinely assists in the local recovery of foreign support and maintenance awards.

David is an active member of the International Law Section of the American Bar Association, having previously served as the Co-Chair of that section’s Family Law Committee. He is licensed to practice law in Washington, Oregon and Texas.

David lives in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle with his wife and two sons.

Education & Experience


  • Section Advisor of the American Bar Association to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws' Drafting Committee on the Implementation of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children (2011-present)
  • Immediate Past Co-Chair, American Bar Association, International Law Section Family Law Committee (2010-2011)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)
  • Fellow, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (IAML)
  • Member: American Bar Association, Washington State Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, Oregon State Bar, King County Bar Association
  • Member, King County Bar Association's Judicial Screening Committee
  • Member, Washington State Bar Association Professionalism Committee


  • J.D., cum laude, Seattle University School of Law
  • B.A., English, cum laude University of Southern Indiana

Honors & Awards

Awards and Distinctions

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in the field of Family Law 2012-2013
  • Distinguished as a Washington Super Lawyer 2010-2013
  • Top 100 Attorneys in Washington State, Washington Super Lawyers, 2012

In the Media

Recent Publications and Presentations

  • Presenter, Innovations, Breaking Boundaries in Custody Litigation, AAML / University of Texas (Austin, Texas, 2013)
  • Presenter, Equitable Distribution in Divorce, National Business Institute (2013)
  • Presenter, Unconventional Issues in Child Custody and Abduction Cases, American Bar Association (Anchorage, Alaska, 2013)
  • Presenter, Key Players in Cross Border Real Estate Investments, AIJA / American Bar Association (Cannes, France, 2013)
  • Panelist, Recognition of Foreign Court Orders and Conflicts of Laws, American Bar Association CLE (Washington D.C., 2012)
  • Presenter, For Better or Worse: International Issues in Marriage and Divorce, American Bar Association CLE (New York, 2012)
  • Presenter, Marital Misbehavior, the Chronically Noncompliant Party: Remedies, AAML CLE (Seattle, 2012)
  • Presenter, US Hague Cases and the UCCJEA, AAML CLE (Seattle, 2012)
  • Panelist, Saving a Stolen Childhood: How to Prevent and Resolve International Kidnapping Cases, American Bar Association CLE (Las Vegas, 2011)
  • Panelist, Family Enterprises in Distress: Issues to Consider, American Bar Association CLE (Dublin, Ireland 2011)
  • Presenter, Divorce Litigation, Start to Finish, National Business Institute CLE (Seattle, 2011)
  • Co-Author, International Family Law, Washington State Bar Association Family Law Desk Book (2010)
  • Presenter, Nuts and Bolts of Family Law, King County Bar Association (Seattle, 2010)
  • Presenter, Family Law Bootcamp, Washington State Bar Association, (Seattle, 2009)
  • Moderator, NBI Domestic Violence: A View from the Bench, National Business Institute CLE (Seattle, 2009)
  • Presenter, International Family Law - The Hague Convention, King County Bar Association CLE (Seattle, 2008)
  • Author, Equal Custody: As published in the King County Bar Association Bulletin
  • Author, The Globalization of Family Law: as published in the King County Bar Association Bulletin
  • Author, "Shared" Custody is Now Shared
  • Author, The Globalization of Family Law
  • Author, The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
  • Author, International Travel with Children: Identification Requirements

In the News

Latest posts by David Starks

5 Must Know Facts About International Adoption

International Adoption

Adopting a child from another country involves many legal steps, both in the U.S. and the country where the child lives. For a successful international adoption (sometimes referred to as an intercountry adoption), it is important that you be prepared … Read More ›

Dividing Retirement Funds in Divorce

Property Division

In a divorce, retirement funds, retirement plans, mutual funds and benefits are commonly a family’s largest assets and often become a hot topic of contention. Any portion of a retirement fund earned during marriage will generally be considered marital property, … Read More ›