powered by probono.net

To leave this site now, use the X button.
If you are in danger, please use a safer computer.
In an emergency, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (TTY 1-800-787-3224). Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear.

Text size: A A A

WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

Services for Family Court Cases in WA

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded

Some superior courts have family law facilitator programs to help you represent yourself in court and parenting seminars you might have to attend. If you do not get help from a lawyer, you may be able to from a facilitator. #3246EN


Download | Printer-friendly

Read Online

What is a Family Law Facilitator?

Some superior courts in Washington have facilitator programs to help you represent yourself in court. If you do not get help from a lawyer, you might be able to from a facilitator.

Facilitators help with family law cases (and guardianship, in King County). They are not lawyers. They can answer general questions and help with child support calculation. They cannot

  • Give legal advice.

  • Tell you how to fill out forms.

If you have general questions about local rules or filling out a form, start with the facilitator. Facilitator programs differ by county. They can

  • sell forms for a fee

  • tell you where to get forms online

  • provide free “how-to” instructions

  • send you instructions by mail or email

*Family Law Facilitators will not make a decision for you.

What does the facilitator in my county do?

Contact the facilitator in the county where your case is filed (check the statewide directory here) to ask

  • what services or classes they have
  • can they help by phone or email

Do I have to pay the facilitator?

Most charge a fee, some on a sliding scale. The fees are usually $20 to $40.

What is a parenting seminar?

When your case involves child custody, you might have to take this. Some counties call it a parent education workshop or parenting class.

You must take the parenting seminar by a deadline and file proof (a certificate) of attendance with the court. You can only take the seminar from a court-approved provider. Check the local court’s website or ask the court clerk for provider names.

Does everyone have to take a parenting seminar?

Maybe not. If you show good reasons not to, the court can waive (excuse) the requirement. Some examples of good cause:

  • it is not in your child’s best interest

  • your safety or your child’s safety is an issue

*If the court does NOT waive your attendance, and you do not take a seminar or delay doing it, it may negatively affect the final parenting plan.

Parenting seminar fees vary, about $40 to $60. Many counties use a sliding scale. If you have a serious financial hardship, read Filing for Waiver of Your Filing Fee.

Does my county require a parenting seminar?

These counties’ rules do not address parenting seminars at the time of this writing. If you are responding to a case in one of them, ask the court clerk if they require a seminar:

  • Adams

  • Asotin

  • Columbia

  • Garfield

  • Clark

  • Gray Harbor

  • Lincoln

  • Mason

  • Walla Walla

What are the rules about parenting seminars?

The Washington statewide court rules are available at www.courts.wa.gov/court_rules/.  

What are Family Law Orientations (FLO’s)?

Some counties have these. An FLO gives you

  • a summary of the court process

  • info on resources available if you are representing yourself

  • You do not have to go to the FLO at the same time as the other party.

The petitioner must serve notice of the orientation program with the Summons and Petition.

In King County: you must go to an FLO within 30 days of filing or service, whichever comes later, if both of these are true:

  • You have a divorce, legal separation, or modification case.

  • You do not have a lawyer.

Exception: you do not have to go if both of these are true:

  • You live outside King County.

  • It would be a hardship to go.

Even if the exception applies, you must read the Orientation Program materials and file a sworn statement that you have read them.

*Unmarried parents do not have to go to the FLO.

The King County local court rule about the FLO is LFLR 20. King County’s Family Court website has more info. Contact them at 206-296-9323 if you cannot go to the FLO.

In Thurston County: the petitioner must schedule the FLO for a date within 30 days of filing the petition. You must go if all of these are true:

  • You have a divorce, legal separation, or dissolution of registered domestic partnership.

  • Children are involved.

  • You do not have a lawyer.

Exception: You do not have to go if you show a good reason. Having a lawyer excuses you from going to an FLO, but you must file a declaration that you will take a Parenting Seminar and go to mediation. The Thurston County Court Rule is LSPR 94.11.

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of August 2018.

© 2018 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014

(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)


Last Review and Update: Aug 01, 2018