Default the Other Party If They Do Not Respond

A Washington Forms Online interview. Self-help court forms and instructions on LawHelp Interactive. Use this if the other party to your family law case does not respond to your petition by the legal deadline.


This free program asks questions and uses your answers to complete your forms. When you finish the interview, you can save, edit, email, download or print your completed forms. You will also get instructions to help with your next steps. 

Watch our How-To Video to see how it works.

  1. Instructions
  2. Motion for Default (FL All Family 161)
  3. Order on Motion for Default (FL All Family 162)
  4. Notice of Hearing (FL All Family 185)
  5. Proof of Mailing or Hand Delivery (Fl All Family 112)

You will need other forms to finalize your case after the judge signs your default order. The other forms you need depend on the type of family law case. The default forms from this interview work for all types of family law cases including divorce, deciding parentage, getting and changing parenting plans and child support, and moving with children (relocation).

Learn More

A default order is when a judge says someone has failed to respond to a court case by the deadline. After a judge finds someone in default, they cannot participate in the case. The judge can sign final orders and hold hearings without notice to the person who was defaulted.

You can get a default order if all of these are true:

  • You filed papers to start your court case (usually a Summons and Petition)
  • You properly served the person/s on the other side of your case (the “other party” or “other parties”)
  • The other party did not file a Response by the legal deadline

The deadline to respond to a court case depends on how and where the other party was served. Generally, the response deadline is:

  • 20 days after personal service in Washington state
  • 60 days after personal service outside Washington
  • 60 days after service by publication
  • 90 days after service by mail

There are special rules for defaulting active duty members of the military, and their dependents, because military service may make it difficult for them to participate in a court case. Before you can get a default, you must tell the court if the other party is covered by these special rules. If you do not know, you must try to find out.

If the other party is on active duty, or is a protected dependent, talk to a lawyer for advice on how to proceed. You may have to ask the court to appoint a lawyer for the other party before you can default them.

Before You Start

Proof of Service: You need to know when, how, and where the other party was served with the Summons and Petition that started your case. Have your proof of service document handy for reference.

Active Duty Military: You need to know if the other party is a military service member on active duty, or a dependent of an active duty service member stationed or living in Washington. If you do not know, you must try to find out.

  • If you are not sure about the other party’s military status, look them up on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Website. You will need to create an account to search military records.
  • If you do not know if the other party is a dependent of someone in the military, you can send them a Notice re Military Dependent (form FL All Family 103) telling them about the special protections. If the other party does not notify you in writing within 20 days that they qualify, you can assume they are not a protected dependent. 

This interview works best on a desktop computer, laptop, or large tablet. If you only have a mobile device, go to a library or other location with a desktop computer and printer. You must print your forms to file them in court.

Your documents will download as .RTF files (rich text format). They can be opened in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Pages, Word Pad, and other word processors. You can email your forms directly from LawHelp Interactive to yourself or someone else who can print them for you.

It could take 10 to 30 minutes to get through the interview. If you don't have enough time to finish, save your answers by creating a free account with LawHelp Interactive. You can create an account before you start or after you finish the interview.

Ready to get started?

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Disclaimer:  This program is designed to follow current law. It does not apply legal principles and judgment to anyone's specific circumstances.

Last Review and Update: Feb 10, 2023
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