Family law

General information

Family law includes a variety of topics such as divorce and dissolution, parentage (unmarried parents), custody, visitation, child support, and adoption.

Washington State uses mandatory pattern forms for many family law cases. The official forms, without instructions, can be found on the State Court website. Most forms are available in both MS Word and PDF formats so you may fill them out online or print them and fill them out by hand using blue or black ink. The library also has many of the official family law forms that can be photocopied.

Checklists of forms for some common family law situations are available through the Clark County Family Court Facilitator's office.

You will find a wealth of information, including topics that are not covered here, at Washington LawHelp. Their Family & Safety section has information about various topics as well as do-it-yourself packets that have step-by-step instructions for family law situations. If you want instructions on how to fill out a particular form, type the form number (located in bold in the bottom line of the form) into the search box.

If you want to do some research to learn more, the law library has the Washington Family Law Deskbook published by the Washington State Bar Association, a three-volume set that is part of the Washington Practice series (also available online from Westlaw), and various continuing legal education books that discuss family law issues.

Family Court Facilitator

Clark County's Family Court Facilitator program provides assistance to individuals who choose to represent themselves in matters dealing with:

  • Dissolution (Divorce)
  • Legal Separation
  • Establishing a Parenting Plan
  • Parenting Plan Modifications
  • Child Support Modifications
  • Custody Issues
  • Relocations
  • Restraining Orders
  • Temporary Orders
  • Contempt of Court

The facilitator can help you determine how to start certain family law actions; what mandatory forms are available and where to get them; provide information on court rules, procedures, and case schedules; and review completed forms for procedural correctness.

The facilitator cannot provide legal advice, fill out your paperwork or tell you how to fill it out, or assist you if you are represented by an attorney.

The facilitator is available for in-person assistance only, no telephone calls, e-mails or mail are accepted. The facilitator fee is $20.00 for a 20-minute visit and appointments are scheduled at the Clerk's Office.

Dissolution (divorce)

Washington LawHelp has some general information about getting divorced in Washington state. There are also several other guides in the Family & Safety: Divorce/Separation section covering typical divorce procedures including filing for divorce, responding to a divorce, filing for legal separation, serving papers, and more. Many of the guides include instructions and forms. Washington LawHelp also has an online interactive guide for divorce that can help you get with filling out the forms to start your case.

Washington State's official mandatory pattern forms for divorce can be found on the State Court website. The forms are listed in the order they are filed in a typical divorce. Checklists of forms for asking for, responding to, and finalizing a divorce can be found on the County Clerk's family law instructions page.

The State Court publishes a Family Law Handbook Marriage Edition with information about marriage and divorce, as well as a Family Law Handbook Domestic Partnership Edition with information about domestic partnerships and dissolution.

Parentage (unmarried parents)

Parentage involves unmarried parents. This includes legal parents asking for parenting plans or child support for the first time (Petition for a Parenting Plan, Residential Schedule and/or Child Support). It also includes cases to determine a child's legal parents when they are unmarried (Petition to Decide Parentage).

Washington LawHelp has some general information about Washington Parenting Law for Unmarried Couples. There are also several other guides in the Family & Safety: Paternity/Parentage section covering related procedures including: Parentage and Parenting Plans, Changing a Parenting Plan/Child Custody Order, Responding to Parentage (or Petition for Parenting Plan or Child Support) Papers, File a Petition to Decide Parentage, and more. Many of the guides include instructions and forms. Washington LawHelp also has an online interactive guide for making a parenting plan that can help you create a Parenting Plan proposal or order in a family law case.

Washington State's official mandatory pattern forms for parentage cases can be found on the State Court website under the family law heading. Checklists of forms for parentage cases where an Acknowledgment of Paternity was filed at the Washington Center for Health can be found on the County Clerk's family law instructions page.

Child support

Child support is often part of a family law case. If you are seeking child support, you would do so as part of your divorce, parentage, or other case.

Washington LawHelp has blank forms to print and fill out along with instructions for completing and filing. Or, use their do-it-yourself interview program, Washington Forms Online, for help completing the forms.

Washington State's official mandatory pattern forms relating to child support can be found on the State Court website under the Family Law heading. There are forms for several situations. Checklists of forms for cases that might include child support can be found on the County Clerk's family law instructions page.

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has a quick child support estimator that can provide a rough estimate of your monthly child support obligation. For a more accurate calculation, you can use their automated child support worksheets.

Modification of final parenting plans or child support

Child support modifications: Washington LawHelp has some general information and guides in the Family & Safety: Child Support section to modify a final child support order or to respond to a request to modify the child support.

Washington State's official mandatory pattern forms for child support modification can be found on the State Court website. The forms are listed in the order they are filed in a typical divorce. Checklists of forms for asking for or responding to a child support modification can be found on the County Clerk's family law instructions page.

Parenting plan modifications: Washington LawHelp has some helpful guides in the Family & Safety: Parenting Plans and Custody section related to changing parenting plans. Specific instructions and forms for some situations are in a guide called File a Petition to Change a Parenting Plan, Residential Schedule, or Custody Order. Responding to a request to change a parenting plan for some situations is covered in a guide called Respond to a Petition to Change a Parenting Plan, Residential Schedule, or Custody Order.

Washington State's official mandatory pattern forms for parenting plan modification can be found on the State Court website. The forms are listed in the order they are filed in a typical divorce. Checklists of forms for asking for or responding to a parenting plan modification can be found on the County Clerk's family law instructions page.

Relocation

Washington LawHelp has instructions and blank forms to print and fill out that can be used if you have legal custody of your child, and you wish to move (“relocate”) and take the child with you.

Washington State's official mandatory pattern forms for relocation can be found on the State Court website.

Checklists of forms for to give notice and get permission to move with children, to object to the request to move, and to respond to the objection can all be found on the County Clerk's family law instructions page.

Contempt of court

Contempt of court is a procedure to address violations of court orders.

Washington LawHelp has general information about contempt. They also have blank forms to ask for or respond to contempt along with instructions for completing and filing the paperwork.  

Washington State's official mandatory pattern forms relating to contempt can be found on the State Court website under the Family Law heading. Checklists of forms and steps to ask for or respond to contempt can be found on the County Clerk's family law instructions page.

Adoption

Washington LawHelp has some information related to adoption. The Clark County Clerk's Office has a page about adoption and the State Court website has an adoption page.

King County Adoption Services has legal forms for limited types of adoptions available for purchase at their Family Court Services offices in Seattle and Kent or by mail. Each packet comes with forms and instructions to assist in completing the adoption process. Packets for the following types of adoptions are available:

  • Step-parent / Second Parent consenting
  • Step-parent / Second Parent non-consenting
  • Adult
  • International (Re-adoption)
  • Independent / In Home (Non-agency)

According to the King County Adoption Services FAQ, "You may feel free to modify our forms for use in another county."