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Update from Family Law regarding Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Activities

Please continue to check this website and the links below for updates about the family law response to COVID-19. Because this is an evolving situation, the guidance below may change. 

Self-Represented: This document is to help you understand how to access the court during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Español: Este documento tiene como fin ayudarle a entender cómo conectarse con el tribunal durante la pandemia del COVID-19.


The following court calendars are operating with modified procedures: 

Family Law Motions

Beginning on June 11, 2020, the Family Law Motion calendar will begin hearing all Motions for Temporary Orders/Restraining Orders, Motions for Adequate Cause in Parenting Plan Modification Cases. Please note that Motions for Adequate Cause in nonparental custody cases should be noted in front of the assigned trial judge.

Beginning July 6, 2020, the Family Law Motions calendar will begin hearing Motions for Child Support Adjustment.

Beginning July 20, 2020, all motions will resume, except Motions for Adequate Cause in nonparental custody cases, and COVID related parenting motions, which will continue to be noted in front of the assigned trial judge until further notice.

Trial by Affidavit (TBA)

Beginning on June 4th all matters on the TBA Calendar (Petitions to Modify Child Support or Maintenance) will go forward as scheduled.

State Calendars

State calendars will begin the week of June 8th.

Emergency Motions

All other emergency motions will be heard by the trial judge or Chief Unified Family Court Judge until July 20, 2020. See additional information below.

Important!

There have been significant changes to the processes and procedures for family law motions and the TBA calendar. Before noting a motion visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/family/confirmations.aspx for more information and see Emergency Order #18.

Agreed Family Law Orders

Agreed family law orders which previously would have been presented in person to Ex Parte or Family Law should be submitted via e-filing through the Orders for Review process. For more information click here.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) hearings are occurring telephonically. Do not come to court for your hearing unless you have been directed to do so.

Please visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/family/confirmations.aspx for more information. 

Weapons Surrender

This calendar will be conducted by phone. Parties should e-mail weapons-surrender@kingcounty.gov with their case name and number, day of their hearing, and a telephone number where they can be reached between 8:30 and noon.

For more information about the weapons surrender calendar click this link: Protection Order Announcement.

Trials /Motions before Judges/ Pre-Trial Conferences

Trials: All Unified Family Court (UFC) trials that have not already begun, will be re-set to a date on or after July 20th, 2020 unless parties demonstrate, or the judge decides, that there are compelling reasons to go forward before July 20th. For more information see Emergency Order #18.

Effective June 8, 2020, emancipation proceedings, petitions for writs of habeas corpus, and proceedings regarding surrogacy may be set according to the rules, without regard to emergency criteria. All proceedings will be conducted by videoconference or telephone except in rare circumstances where the court determines that in-person presence is necessary and appropriate.

Motions for Adequate Cause in Nonparental Custody Cases should be noted before the assigned judge and may be noted beginning June 8, 2020.

Emergency Motions: Until July 20, 2020, “emergency” motions that are not yet permitted to be noted on the Family Law Motions Calendar, or cannot be heard on a timely basis on that calendar, may be set before the assigned UFC Judge or, where there is no assigned judge, before the Chief UFC Judge. All such motions must contain a plain and clear statement on the first page as to why the motion is an emergency based on the criteria below. The judge may determine, after reviewing the motion, that it does not constitute an emergency and direct the parties back to the Family Law Motions Calendar.

Emergency matters, are defined as:

  • Motions for temporary restraining orders where personal safety is at issue
  • Motions necessary to protect a child from physical or serious emotional harm or to prevent child abduction
  • Motions on parenting issues where the health or safety of a child or adult is at risk due to COVID-19, or where a parent is being denied contact or a child is being withheld based on COVID-19 claims
  • Motions on financial issues where a person’s basic financial survival is at issue (i.e., ability to maintain housing, basic necessities, and critical health care)

COVID Related Modifications:

In certain circumstances, parties may be able to seek a temporary modification of a parenting plan or non-parental custody order without filing a Petition for Modification or noting a Motion for Adequate Cause. They may also seek an immediate order and order to show cause in the Ex Parte Department if it is an emergency and there is an imminent threat of irreparable harm. These motions shall be set to the assigned judge or, if there is no assigned judge to the Chief UFC Judge. See Emergency Order #18, for more information.

All motions and status/pretrial conferences will be conducted telephonically or by video unless otherwise directed by the judge. Please contact the bailiff for your judge with questions. Contact information for the bailiffs can be found at: https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/directory/judges.aspx.

Final Decree Calendar

All in-person hearings on the self-represented agreed finalization (final decree) calendar have been suspended. If you have scheduled a date to finalize your agreed case, or would like to finalize your case by agreement please visit: https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/family/facilitator.aspx for more information. 

Defaults

Motions for Default: You can submit motions for default that do not require notice to the other party to the Ex Parte Department via Ex Parte via the Clerk.  Submit your motion to Ex Parte only if the other party has not participated in the case in any way.  If the other party has appeared (participated) in the case but has not filed a response, you must provide notice.  For motions for default that do require notice, there is a separate calendar on Fridays at 1:30 pm in front of the Chief UFC Judge.  The Notice of Court Date for that calendar can be found HERE.  Self-represented parties should talk with the facilitator about how to note these default hearings.

Status Conference

There will be no Status/Non-Compliance Calendar by phone, in person or by e-mail. The Status/Non-Compliance calendar will happen by paper review. Although there will be no dismissals for failure to appear at the calendar, the court may dismiss your case if you fail to comply with previous Status/Non-Compliance Orders.

Please visit: https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/family/status-conference.aspx for more information. 


The following court programs are operating with modified procedures:

Parent Seminar/Family Law Orientation (FLO)

In person classes have been canceled. In lieu of in person classes, we will be sending class participants materials to review. If you need to attend the FLO or Parent Seminar you must still register for the class.

For more information please visit: 

Family Law Information Center/Family Law Facilitators

Family Law Information Center will be closed for in-person walk-in hours until further notice. Facilitators will be assisting people by phone only. 

Please visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/family/facilitator.aspx for more information.

Family Court Services

If you have any questions about upcoming appointments or mediations please contact your assigned evaluator / conciliator. If you are unsure who your evaluator / conciliator is, please contact the family court services front desk at: FCS@KingCounty.Gov and see more information at our website: https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/family/services.aspx

Adoption Services

If you have questions about your adoption please check the Adoption Services webpage at https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/family/adoption-services.aspx or contact the adoption specialist at: 

Early Resolution Case Manager (ERCM)

If you have questions about an upcoming mediation with an Early Resolution Case Manager (ERCM) please contact the ERCM assigned to your case. Please refer to the appointment form for contact information.

July 17, 2020

Family Court handles all family law matters where children are involved, including:
  • Divorce or legal separation with children
  • Parenting
  • Paternity
  • Adoption
  • Child or spousal support
  • Domestic violence
  • Some dependency matters
Listen to Chief Family Court Judge Tanya Thorp discuss the work in this 8 minute podcast

Several programs are available to serve the public and assist the court in handling family law cases. These include:

A variety of family law instruction packets are also available online.

Information on Status Conference and Non-Compliance Hearings is available on the Status Conferences webpage.

All family law actions are filed in Room E609 at the King County Courthouse and Room 2C at the Maleng Regional Justice Center.

Some actions require a filing fee which is paid to the Clerk at the time the action is filed. Payment can be made by cash, money order or personal check if it is drawn on a Washington State Bank. If you are unable to afford the filing fee, you may file a Fee Waiver Request.

Retain or consult with an attorney to determine what type of family law action you should file. If you are representing yourself and know what type of action you would like to file, visit the family law facilitators to get the forms you need, as well as information on court processes and procedures.

If you have scheduled a family law hearing, you must confirm it before your court date. The easiest way to do this is to visit our Confirm a Family Law Hearing webpage and follow the instructions posted there.

Family Court operates at two locations: the King County Courthouse in Seattle, and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. Most Family Court programs and services are available at either facility; however, please note that calendar schedules and hours of operation sometimes differ.

To contact the Family Court visit the Contact Superior Court webpage.