Respond to Divorce
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
A Washington Forms Online interview. Do-it-yourself court forms and instructions on LawHelp Interactive.
What will this interview do? +
This free program will help you fill out court forms to respond to a divorce case filed against you.
The interview 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.
What forms will I get? +
- Response to Petition about a Marriage (FL Divorce 211)
- Confidential Information (FL All Family 001)
- Proof of Mailing or Hand Delivery (FL All Family 112)
Where can I learn about Washington divorce law? +
What if I think Washington does not have authority over me (jurisdiction)? +
In general, Washington may give your spouse a divorce if they live in Washington, even if you have never lived here. If you have never lived here, Washington may not have personal jurisdiction over you (authority). In that case, the Washington court may not be able to order you to do certain things, such as pay child support and maintenance (alimony), obey restraining orders, or divide property and debts that are not in Washington.
If you think a Washington court does not have authority over you, you must challenge Washington’s jurisdiction before filing anything with the court. For help deciding if Washington has jurisdiction over you, talk with a lawyer.
What if I have children? +
If you have children with your spouse who are under age 18, the court will order a parenting plan and child support as part of your divorce.
If the children have not always lived in Washington, the court may not have authority (jurisdiction) over the children. If not, you cannot get a parenting plan here. You may need to file in another state.
For help deciding if Washington has jurisdiction over the children, talk with a lawyer.
What if I agree with the divorce? +
If you agree you should get divorced, but you do not agree with everything your spouse asked for in the legal papers you received, complete this interview to file a Response.
If you agree with everything your spouse is asking for, you may want to complete an Agreement to Join Petition (form FL All Family 119, on courts.wa.gov/forms).
Important! Agreeing to everything means agreeing to what your spouse said about property, debts, spousal support, any protection or restraining orders, and the parenting plan and child support (if any children). If you disagree with any of those things, do not sign an Agreement to Join Petition. Complete this interview to file a Response.
If you sign an agreement joining the petition, you do not need to file a response.
- You do not ever have to sign an Agreement to Join Petition.
- If you disagree with any requests in the petition or any related paper, or if you agree with all the requests but want to be sure the court does not approve final agreed papers until you sign them, do not sign the Agreement to Join Petition.
- Signing the Agreement to Join Petition form gives your spouse permission to enter final papers without your further approval or your signature on the papers.
- Talk with a lawyer (not the other party's lawyer) before signing an Agreement to Join Petition so you fully understand any legal rights you are giving up.
Even if you agree to everything requested, in most cases we recommend that instead of signing the Agreement to Join Petition, ask to see and read the proposed final papers before the other party takes them to the judge. If the proposed final papers correctly show your agreement, sign them. This reduces the chance of misunderstanding and you can be more confident the final papers accurately show your agreement.
What if I am in the military or the dependent of someone in the military? +
You may have special legal protections. Before you file anything with the court and well before your deadline for filing, get legal advice about your rights. Talk with your JAG office or a lawyer who knows the federal and state Service Members Civil Relief Acts.
What about local rules? +
Divorce law is the same all over the state. But local court requirements will affect how you handle your case. Many counties have special forms, or have other local rules you must follow. Many counties require case schedules, classes, or settlement conferences. You must learn and follow local court requirements.
Call the court clerk’s office or family law facilitator to find out about their local requirements. Tell them you are responding to a divorce. Requirements may differ, depending on the type or stage of your case.
Read your local court rules. They are available at your county’s law library and often online at courts.wa.gov.
Before You Start
Talk with a lawyer +
We strongly recommend that you talk with a lawyer before filing your response. Even if you cannot afford to pay one to handle your divorce for you, a lawyer may advise you about important legal rights your divorce may affect. Example: You may have financial rights, such as a share of your spouse’s pension or other property that you could lose if you do not protect those rights in the divorce.
If you have children, a lawyer can help you with a parenting plan and child support.
Make any challenges to the court’s authority (jurisdiction) +
If you think a Washington court does not have authority over you, you must challenge the court's jurisdiction before filing anything with the court. This interview does not help you challenge jurisdiction. Talk with a lawyer about that issue. For help deciding if Washington has jurisdiction over you, talk with a lawyer.
Get any other packets you need +
If you have been served with a motion, get our Responding to Motions for Temporary Family Law Orders or Immediate Restraining Orders packet. You may have other, earlier deadlines to respond to those motions.
Domestic Violence Survivors: If your spouse has a history of stalking or physically harming you or the children, or has threatened to do so, think about filing a petition for an Order for Protection for immediate protection. Orders for Protection offer strong safety restraints. To fill out the forms, use our Get a Domestic Violence Protection Order interview. You can also get help from your local domestic violence program or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.7233. Our publication Domestic Violence: Can the Legal System Help Protect Me? has general information.
What do I need before I start? +
Gather all the papers that were served on you. You must look at them to answer questions in the interview.
Read everything carefully to find out what your spouse is asking for. Use a yellow highlighter pen. Mark the things you want to respond to.
It could take up to 30 minutes to finish the interview. If you don't have enough time, 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.
What does my computer need? +
This interview works best on a desktop computer, laptop, or large tablet. If you only have a mobile device, try going 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.