(a) Description. In an effort to promote less adversarial choices for parties with children beginning family law actions, the Thurston County Superior Court provides an Orientation Program. This Orientation may include:
(1) information from a courthouse facilitator on court processes,
(2) an introduction to the Parenting Seminar regarding how children are affected by their parents’ separation, and an opportunity to schedule an appointment for the Seminar required under the local rule regarding parenting seminars (LSPR 94.06), and
(3) a video presentation on mediation and an opportunity for schedule a mediation appointment through court administration.
Following completion of the Orientation, and mediation, if applicable, any unresolved motions or show cause issues that have been properly filed and scheduled will be heard by the Court.
(1) Dissolutions/Legal Separations with Children. In dissolutions of marriage with children, legal separations with children, and dissolutions of registered domestic partnerships with children, the parties to the action shall be required to complete an Orientation to the Family Court System.
(2) Out of State Resident. A party residing outside the State of Washington shall be excused from attending the Orientation if attendance would be a hardship.
(3) Out of County Residents. A party residing outside of Thurston County may be excused from attending the Orientation if attendance would be a hardship.
(4) Represented Parties. Attendance at the Orientation shall be excused for a party who is represented by an attorney upon filing a declaration that the party shall attend the Parenting Seminar in compliance with these local rules (LSPR 94.06(c)) and mediation shall be scheduled for disputed issues related to the parenting plan within 30 days from the date of filing or service. If an attorney withdraws from a case without substitution of new counsel, then the notice of withdrawal under Washington State Civil Court Rules (CR 71) shall provide notice of the party’s responsibility to attend the Orientation. The withdrawing attorney shall file a Notice of Issue scheduling the Orientation for the party. This requirement for completion of the Orientation may be excused as otherwise permitted. A petitioner shall be required to schedule the Orientation for the respondent and serve notice as otherwise required by this rule.
(5) Good Cause. Participation in the Orientation Program may be excused or modified upon a showing of good cause.
(c) Renewal. The court may renew the requirement of attendance at the Orientation Program at any time in cases where attendance was previously excused.
(d) Scheduling. At the time an action requiring Orientation is filed, the petitioner shall schedule attendance at the Orientation Program for both parties to occur within 30 days of filing. The parties shall not be required to attend the same Orientation session. The summons and petition for dissolution shall not be accepted for filing by the County Clerk unless the notice of issue scheduling the Orientation for both parties is filed at the same time, or attendance at Orientation is excused under the "Requirement" section of this rule. Any party requesting a hearing, and any party responding to a request for hearing, shall attend the Orientation before the hearing. Attendance at the Orientation Program is not required prior to emergency hearings.
(e) Service. The petitioner shall serve the notice of issue scheduling the Orientation Program on the respondent at the time the Summons and Petition is served. In the event a joinder in the petition is filed, the petitioner shall serve the notice of issue scheduling the Orientation Program on the respondent within seven days of filing.
[Adopted effective January 1, 2004. Amended effective September 1, 2005; September 1, 2006; September 1, 2008; September 1, 2011; September 1, 2017.]