Serving papers on the State

Blank forms to print and fill out on your own, with how-to instructions for completing and filing. If you, the other parent, or the children receive public assistance, use this packet to notify the State when you set or change child support. #3218EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, if all these are true:

  • You have children                                                                                                               
  • You, your children, or your children’s other parent is on public assistance in Washington State
  • You are setting or changing child support through a court case filed in a Washington State Superior Court

* Public assistance here means Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, or food stamps.

If either of these is true:

  1. You have filed a court case (a petition and summons). Your petition includes a request to get or change child support. Examples: A divorce; a petition to establish parentage.
  2. You have received (been served with) a petition and summons. The petition includes a request to get or change child support. You are filing a written response to the petition.

In either of these situations, you must serve the prosecuting attorney’s office (also called the State).

The State has a right to know when a court case is about to be filed that may order child support if someone involved in the case (called a party to the case) gets public assistance.

We have the form and instructions for the Declaration of Service on the State Attorney General or County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. We have also included a sample completed version of this form.

At least 20 days before any hearing to finalize a Child Support Order, you must serve a copy of each of these on the State:

  • Summons and Petition or Response
  • Your Child Support Worksheets
  • Your Proposed Parenting Plan (not yet signed by the judge)
  • Notice of Hearing
  • Your Proposed Child Support Order (not yet signed by the judge)

If you want temporary family law orders, you must also serve a copy of each of the following on the State office at least 8 days (if by mail) or 5 days (if hand-delivered) before any temporary family law orders hearing about child support.

When counting days, do not include weekends or Federal holidays:

  • Summons and Petition or Response
  • Your Motion for Temporary Family Law Order
  • Your Proposed Temporary Parenting Plan
  • Your child support worksheets
  • Child Support Order (for temporary amount)
  • Notice of Hearing

If you are going to file for temporary law orders, you can find the right packet for your type of case at

There are two ways to do it:

  1. Have them hand-delivered to the office for your county. You can visit WA Prosecutors to find the right office, and call them to confirm their address and hours, or
  2. Mail that office a copy by certified mail, return receipt requested. You can visit WA Prosecutors to find the right office, and call them to confirm their mailing address.

* You do not need a special court order to serve the State by certified mail.

Do not serve or mail the papers yourself. Have a friend or relative who is age 18 or older do it. That person should bring your copy of the papers too. The office can put a “received” stamp on your copy.

After your server serves the papers on the State, you must fill out a Declaration of Service on the State Attorney General’s Office or County Prosecutor’s Office (See instructions for filling out this form below).

When you go to your final hearing, bring the Declaration of Service to show the judge.

Filling out the Declaration of Service: Fill out the Caption as shown in the General Instructions of your Petition or Response packet. The person serving or mailing the papers fills out the rest of the form. They must fill out the form completely.

Put the address of the office you are sending the papers to.  

Check the box for each form you have served. Put any other forms served on the other party that is not on the list.

That is good news.

One of their lawyers can sign the Child Support Order and final order. You can bring these signed papers to your final hearing or trial.

That means the State will not sign your orders. Instead, their lawyer will come to the hearing or trial to argue for the amount they think is right.

If you do not get the State’s signature, you must prove at the final hearing or trial that you served a Notice of Hearing or Notice of Trial on the right office at least 9 days (by mail) or 6 days (hand-delivered) before the hearing. Do not include weekends or federal holidays when you are counting.

If you served by mail, bring both your completed Declaration of Service on the Attorney General and the certified mail receipt.

If you do not serve the State with your papers according to the instructions above, you must make an appointment to have the lawyer for the State review your final order

Example: Your Final Divorce Order, or your Final Order on and Findings on Petition to Change Parenting Plan) and your Child Support Order. The State’s attorney must sign the orders before the judge does.

Contact the office listed for your area to make an appointment. Bring your papers to this appointment.

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Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Last Review and Update: Oct 06, 2022
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