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Family Law Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I am representing myself, can the court tell me what I need to know?

Please understand that we cannot

  • give personal opinions about cases
  • research the law for you
  • pass on messages to a judge
  • provide confidential information
  • talk to the judge for you or let you talk to the judge outside of court
  • tell you which lawyer we think is best
  • tell you what words to use in your court paper or whether they are correct
  • tell you whether or not you should bring your case to court
  • tell you what to say in court

You may schedule an appointment with the Court Facilitator.  Court Facilitators provide assistance to self-represented parties by providing information about local court procedures, use of mandatory court forms, assistance with child support worksheets, ex parte procedures.  For more information about the Court Facilitators and their services click here.

How long does a dissolution take?

​If the parties are in agreement with everything it can be finalized 90 days after the petition/joinder are filed.  If you cannot agree, it could take up to a year or longer.

Does it matter who files first?

​It does not generally matter who is the first to file dissolution papers.  The court does not give any preference to the first person to file (the petitioner), or any disadvantage to the person who is the respondent.  Both parties can ask for temporary relief while the case is pending.

What if my spouse/domestic partner does not want to give me a dissolution?

​In Washington, it is not necessary for both spouses or domestic partners to agree to the dissolution.  Either spouse or domestic partner can decide to end the marriage or partnership.  It is not necessary for the other spouse or partner to agree or “give you” a dissolution.  The spouse or partner who does not want to get a dissolution cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case.  He or she does not have to sign anything to agree to the dissolution.  If your spouse or domestic partner does not participate in the dissolution case, you will still be able to ask for a default judgment and the dissolution will go through.

How can I get my parenting plan and/or child support entered before my final hearing?

​File a motion for temporary order and schedule a hearing.  For more information on filing a motion and scheduling a hearing click here.

Where do I go to get a copy of my divorce decree or any court documents in my case?

​Please visit the Clerk's Office here.

Where do I go to get a name change?

​If you are getting divorced or separated you can get your names changed as part of that case.  All other name changes are handled at District Court.

Where do I get court forms?

​The Clerk's Office has a Self Help Center to assist you in selecting the proper forms for your situation.  The form packets include step-by-step instructions, along with proper forms to process your case.  For more information click here.

Mandatory court forms that are used statewide in Washington Courts can be found here.

Local court forms provided by Superior Court can be found here.

How can I find my case number?

​You can find your case number through Odyssey portal.

How can I review my court file?

​You can review your court file through Odyssey portal online or the Clerk’s office also has computers that you can use to look at your court file.

How can I check if there is a hearing scheduled in my case?

​Check Odyssey portal to look at your case and see if you have a hearing scheduled.  You can also contact the Clerk’s office at (360) 709-3260.

What are Judge's copies and how do I submit them?

​"Judge's copies" are copies of all the paperwork you are filing for your motion or trial, that the judicial officer can review and write in.  Judges copies are required for all documents at or before the time you file them.

Parties may not submit electronic Judge's copies directly to a Judicial Assistant or Court Administration unless the court asks the parties to do so.  Judge's copies must be delivered to Court Administration timely.  If electronically filing documents, parties may utilize the service of the Clerk's Office for a fee.  However delivered, it is a party's responsibility to have Judge's copies delivered on time.  For more information click here.

How do I notify parties about my court case or hearing?

​Click here to read about how to correctly notify all parties in your case.

How can I strike or continue a hearing?

​You can only continue or strike a hearing that you scheduled.  If the opposing party scheduled the hearing and they agree to continue/strike the hearing, they will need to continue/strike the hearing.  If the Court scheduled the hearing you will need to file a motion to continue/strike the hearing and schedule your motion for a hearing.  For more information on scheduling motions click here.

Strikes and continuances must be communicated to the Clerk's office through the "Notice of hearing continued or stricken/cancelled" form available on the Clerk's web page. Judge's copies of the notice to strikes or continuance must promptly be provided to the Court.  The notice must be filed at least two court days before the hearing.  The Court understands that sometimes there are last minute emergencies and settlements, but follow these deadlines whenever possible.

How can I get an audio recording or written transcript of my hearing?

​Click here to get information on how to order a transcript or audio recording.

How do I arrange for a telephone hearing?

​If you meet the requirements to appear by phone you will need to call Court Administration to make arrangements.  You will always need to make arrangements for every hearing and you should always make the arrangements to appear by phone as soon as you know you have a hearing.  Click here for more information on telephone hearings.

Do I have to go to mediation?

​The parties to any court action involving a parenting plan where there are disputes are required to participate in mediation before proceeding to trial, except in cases involving domestic violence.

For more information about mediation and where to schedule click here.

Can I do the parenting seminar online?

​Currently the court does not accept online classes.

The Parenting Seminar is offered in most counties in Washington.  The Thurston County provider is Family Education & Support Services.  Click here for more information about the parenting seminar.

If you reside outside the State of Washington, please check with your local court to see what parenting seminar they accept.

How do I get a settlement conference or trial date?

​Parties are required to participate in a settlement conference before they receive a trial date.  Click here for more information on both.

How do I present an Order to a Judicial Officer based on their ruling?

​An order reflecting a judicial officer’s oral ruling must be presented to that same judicial officer.

If all of the parties sign the proposed order and agree to the form of the order, you can present it

(1) ex parte or at the beginning of the judicial officer’s motion calendar; or

(2) through the ex parte mail-in process, where it will be referred to the judicial officer who made the ruling.

If all the parties do not sign the proposed order and/or don’t agree to the content of the order, schedule a presentation hearing before the same judicial officer.

If your hearing was before a Pro Tem Commissioner and there is no agreement on the proposed order, contact Edith Vanderwal to schedule a presentation date.

Note: Court Administration does not track mail in ex parte motions.  Contact the Clerk’s office for more information at (360) 709-3260.

For more information on the Ex Parte Process click here.

Where do I go to seal a juvenile record?

Juvenile Probation Department (1st Floor) at Family & Juvenile Court
Reception (360) 709-3131

How do I contact my child's probation officer?

​Juvenile Probation (1st Floor) at Family & Juvenile Court
Reception (360) 709-3131

How do I ask the Court for Adoption information?

​If you want to learn more about the birth parent of an adopted child, or about a person who was adopted there are a few ways to get that information.  Click here for a guide about how to get information from adoption files or through an investigation by a confidential intermediary.

Forms provided by the Court:

Motion and Declaration for Release of Certified Copy of the Decree

Order to Release Decree