Snohomish County Divorces – COVID-19 Update

Snohomish County Divorces – COVID-19 Update

SNOHOMISH COUNTY COVID-19 UPDATE

Just like in King County, divorces in Snohomish County have gotten more difficult. Snohomish County has not moved to electronic filing, and so initial document still need to be dropped off at the courthouse in person, or mailed in, along with a check. I normally file them through ABC, which works very well but does cost a bit more money.

The emergency rules governing DVPO’s, and family law motions, change frequently. It is very important to check the latest updates in both the local rules, and the Superior Court Clerk’s website.

The Superior Court website with the latest rules is here.

The Superior Court Clerks website with the latest updates is here.

Generally: all family law motions will be heard telephonically, through Court Call.  That has proven to work quite well, but does require some advance planning.

Final orders, with an attorney involved, like me, have to be noted nine days in advance, on the ex parte calendar. Again, they are done without oral argument, but it does require advance planning.

Snohomish County now accepts (among others) King County seminars.  See website, here. King County parenting classes allow for attendance by, essentially, email.  See website, here. So you can take the King County seminar! 

Mediation: Remember you still have the same requirement to go to mediation before you can confirm the trial date, no matter when the trial date is. That has not changed. VOA is not doing in person mediation, and will probably not do mediation at all for some time. Professional mediators are doing mediation by Skype or Zoom, but not in person.

Snohomish County Divorces Overview

This is an overview of the process for Snohomish County divorces. This is just an overview; if you are trying to do a case, this will be helpful, but do not depend on it for everything. The links to Snohomish County Superior Court and to the State’s Website are in my Resources section. You will also need to read the Snohomish County Local Rules. You can also go down and talk to the Family Law Facilitator.

When you initially file a Snohomish Codivorce, or any new action, you need a Summons, a Petition, Cover Sheet, a State Certificate of Dissolution. Most of these are statewide pattern forms. I have attached samples of the most common forms here.

Once you have the forms filled out, you need to file them. You can (1) go down to the Clerk’s Office (here) and file them personally; or (2) mail them in, along with the filing fee. The fee schedule is here. If you are not sure, call the clerk at 425-388-3421 and ask them. They will be happy to explain.  (If you use my services, of course, I take care of all that.)

If you are filing them in person, take a copy along with you; you will need to stamp it at the clerk’s office. When you file the case, the clerk will assign a case number. That number looks like this:

That is the number the clerk’s office uses to track Snohomish County divorces forever after.  Just filing the case does not start the divorce, legally. You still have to serve it on the other side. If the other side is cooperating, they may well sign an Acceptance of Service. (See samples.) If not, you will need to have them signed. You cannot serve them; but anyone else can. (Friend, neighbor, mother…) You can serve anyone living at the place the other side is living in; or you can have them served personally. A Return of Service form is attached here. You need to file that form with the court when they are served.

A divorce – or any action, for that matter – does not formally, legally, start until it is both filed and served. If it is a divorce, the 90 day clock starts to tick the later of the filing date or the service date.

Unlike King County, Snohomish County does not use a full case management system; you have to set Snohomish County divorces for trial. If you do not manage it yourself, a case can drag out for many months. BUT Snohomish County does issue automatic restraining orders (see a sample, here) which keep the kids in place and help to ensure someone doesn’t strip the bank account and leave. It’s not perfect, but it helps a lot. The clerk will issue that when you file the Summons and Petition; it’s your job to get it served on the other side.

Also – be careful to read the Snohomish County Local Rules. (Here.) They list a number of things you have to file and serve when you start a divorce, and you want to make sure that you comply with them all.

Once you file and serve the Petition, the other side has to file an Answer. Once they file the Answer, you need to set the case for trial, and then confirm it. (Note for trial setting is here.) You have to fill the Note out; send it in to the Director of Arbitration; and send a copy to the other side as well. Nobody has to show up in court for it, though. In about two weeks you will get a trial date. Pay close attention to that.

If you have children: both parents need to go to a parenting seminar, called For The Kids Sake Parenting Seminar. This is a low fee, but paid, seminar. It lasts about 4 hours. The seminar website is listed here.

Trial. See Section on Trials.

Entering Final Orders. Just like in King County, you have to file a Note for Calendar. However, you also have to have a JIS background check, if there are children involved. That has to be sent in not less than five working days to FCS, so they can get a background check done. The form is here. The clerk will make sure the file is sent to ex parte. If I am handling your case, you and I can walk the orders through, any time. I handle the JIS check.

On the day you set, show up at court. (If I am the attorney, I handle this.) Bring the originals and one set of copies of all the final orders. The clerk will sign you in; the court will ask you a few questions; the judge will sign the orders; and it will all be over.