Category: Family Law

Responding to a Petition for Visits

The Northwest Justice Project, via its self-help site WashingtonLawHelp.org, has released a new guide to help custodial parents respond to a petition from a third-party–such as a grandparent or another relative–for visitation rights.  It’s titled You Have Been Served with a Petition for Visits and includes a complete set of instructions and forms.  Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to read through the information in two related NJP guides: Which Court can Enter Custody Orders? Questions and Answers about Jurisdiction –which will help you understand how to determine if a Washington court has the right to consider a petition for visitation–and Washington’s New Non-Parent Visitation Rights –which provides a general overview of our State’s Non-Parent Visitation Rights law.

New Forms for Grandparents and Relatives Seeking Visitation Rights

During the 2018 Regular Session, the Washington State legislature passed Senate Bill 5598, Chapter 183 of the Laws of 2018, which adds a procedure for grandparents and other relatives to petition the court for visitation rights.  The new law amends RCW 26.10.160, repeals 26.09.240 and adds a new chapter to Title 26.  For more details about the new law, see the Final Bill Report.  Forms for the new procedure can be found on the State Court’s web site under the section titled Visits with Children.

New Domestic Cause of Action Granting Relatives the Right to Seek Visits with a Child

Washington State SB 5598 (companion bill HB 2117) 2017-18 amends RCW 26.10.160 and adds a new chapter to Title 26. The new law allows for grandparents and other relatives by blood or marriage (including step-family members) the ability to seek an order regarding visits with a child who is not their biological child. This law goes into effect on June 7, 2018.

The following is King County related information about this new cause of action:

  • A new set of statewide pattern forms will be made available from the Washington State Office of the Administrator for the Courts, including:
    • Petition for Visits,
    • Response to Petition,
    • Motion for Advanced Lawyer Fees & Costs,
    • Order After Review of Petition, and
    • Final Order and Findings on Petition.
  • When those new statewide pattern forms are complete, you may find them here: https://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=forms.static&staticID=14#FamLawForms
  • Cases may be initiated upon the filing of a Petition for Visits. This is a new cause of action.
  • The domestic filing fee of $260 applies.
  • Cases will receive a case schedule and will be assigned to the Chief Unified Family Court (UFC) Judge, Judge Rietschel.
  • The Chief UFC Judge will conduct an in camera review hearing to determine whether the case will go forward. If the case moves forward, the Chief UFC Judge will assign it to a UFC Department judge for trial. Both the in camera review hearing and trial date are set via the case schedule issued at the time of filing.

New Domestic Violence Sealed Name Change Form Packet

In Washington State, if you are eighteen or older, you can choose and use any name you want, as long as you are not trying to defraud (cheat) someone. Example: it is not legal to change names to avoid paying creditors or child support.

If you are a survivor of domestic violence and you want the name change record sealed due to a “reasonable fear” for your safety, you should petition the superior court to change your name and/or your child’s name. RCW 4.24.130. The court will seal the file if it believes that safety justifies the sealing. Once sealed, there is no public access to any court record of the name change filing, even if the court does not grant the name change.

An advocate from the Domestic Violence Protection Order Advocates office and/or an attorney can help survivors think about the good or bad consequences of the name change process.

This form packet was prepared by the Public Law Library of King County and it 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 April 2018.

Download the Domestic Violence Sealed Name Change Form Packet here:

Need more help or resources? Check out our Domestic Violence Research Guide.

If you need immediate assistance, call the Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-562-6025

© 2018 Public Law Library of King County — 1-206-477-7633.
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

ELAP Family Law Fellowship Program Now Accepting Applications

The Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) Fellowship Program is currently accepting applications for its 2017 – 2018 Family Law Fellowship Program. ELAP’s work centers around providing free, high quality, civil legal services to low-income residents of East King County, and domestic violence legal aid to residents throughout King County.

ELAP Family Law Fellowship (2017-2018):

  • It is a year long program that focuses on training new attorneys on Family Law and Domestic violence.
  • Access to mentorship and training in Family Law, Domestic Violence, motions practice and pre-trial/trial preparation.
  • ELAP provides liability insurance and office space.
  • Fellow’s give back by committing to 600 volunteer hours over the course of the program year.
  • Orientation starts November 6, 2017
  • Application deadline on October 13, 2017

For more information, please refer to this brochure, ELAP Fellowship Program 2017, or visit ELAP’s website at http://www.elap.org/about/elap-family-law-fellowship/.

Handbook for Washington Seniors Updated

Legal Voice has updated the Handbook for Washington Seniors: Legal Rights and Resources for 2016 into 2017. The Handbook is a quick-reference guide covering legal rights, health care, housing, etc. The Handbook answers common questions about the issues seniors are likely to face. The Handbook may also be helpful to the family and caregivers of seniors.

You can find a digital copy of this resource available for free at www.legalvoice.org/handbook. You can also order a copy for $20 from Legal Voice.

You may also view a copy of this resource in the library, available at RES KF 390.A4 H36 (ask for it at the front information desk).

New Plain Language Forms Available for Use May 1, 2016

The WSBA Access to Justice Board in partnership the the Administrative Office of the Courts worked together to create forms for family law cases that use simpler language that is easier to understand for non-lawyers. The hope is that these new forms create less confusion and remove some of the anxiety of filling out the forms for self-represented people. The new forms will be available to use as of May 1, 2016 and required for use by July 1, 2016. You can read more about the project and see the forms here.

Need help with a Family Law matter? Check out our Family Law Guide, as well as our Guide to Family Law Clinics & Resources in King County.