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LFLR 13. Parenting Plan and Child Custody Procedures

Local Family Law Rule

   (a) Information Required. In child custody, visitation, or parenting plan disputes, each party shall submit the following information:
        (1) A proposed custodial or visitation plan or parenting plan, except in actions brought under Chapter 26.10 RCW.
        (2) If not in the verified petition, a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Declaration and Declaration Regarding Other Proceedings, which must be timely supplemented throughout the pendency of the proceedings.
    (b) Referral for Mediation, Evaluation, and Investigation.
        (1) Mandatory Mediation. All parties to parenting plan, custody or visitation disputes shall participate in some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, unless waived by court order for good cause. See also LFLR 16.
        (2) Investigation by Professionals. In all parenting plans, custody and visitation cases not resolved by mediation or other dispute resolution process, the matter may be referred to Family Court Services or other suitable person or agency for investigation upon motion or by stipulation. When so referred, a report shall be provided in writing to the Court and the parties in advance of trial.
        (3) Evaluations. The Court may, upon motion, order a mental health evaluation or physical examination when appropriate. The issues of costs shall be addressed in the order.
        (4) Child Advocate.
            (A) Appointment. Upon motion of the parties or on the Court’s own motion, the Court may appoint a child advocate who may be a Guardian ad Litem, A Court Appointed Special Advocate, or an attorney for the child. See also LGALR 1-7. The order shall designate the appointee, the duties, and make provision for the payment of fees.
            (B) Notice. From the date of the appointment, the child advocate shall receive copies of all documents that are to be served on parties, copies of all discovery, and notice of all hearings, presentations and trials.
            (C) Discharge. Unless otherwise set forth in these rules, the child advocate shall be discharged only by order of the Court upon motion or upon completion of the case when final orders are filed with approval of the appointed child advocate.
        (5) Costs of Mediation, Evaluation or Investigation. Unless waived pursuant to an in forma pauperis petition, the parties shall pay the costs of a Family Court Services mediation or investigation based upon their incomes on a sliding scale basis. The costs of a private mediator, investigator, evaluator or child advocate shall be apportioned between the parties based on their income and resources or as otherwise ordered. Except as otherwise agreed, the fees of a child advocate or evaluator shall be set by the Court.  
    (c) Seminar for Parenting Plans.
        (1) Applicability. This rule applies to all cases filed under Chapters 26.09 RCW, and 26.26 RCW  related to custody, visitation, or parenting of minor children, including dissolutions of marriage, legal separations, major modifications, and parentage actions in which parentage has been established. This rule does not apply to modification cases based solely upon relocation.  In the case of parentage actions initiated by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Seminar for Parenting Plans shall be required only after an order establishing parentage has been entered and a parenting plan is requested.
        (2) Parenting Seminars; Mandatory Attendance. In all cases referred to in Section (1) above, both parents and such other parties as the court may direct shall participate in and successfully complete an approved parenting seminar within sixty (60) days after service of a petition on the responding party.  Successful completion shall be evidenced by a certificate of attendance filed with the court by the provider agency.
        (3) Special Considerations/Waiver.
            (A) In no case shall opposing parties be required to attend a seminar together.
            (B) Upon showing of domestic violence, abuse, safety concerns, or 26.09.191 allegations, or that a parent’s attendance at a seminar is not in the children’s best interest, the court shall either:
                waive the requirement of completion of the seminar; or
                provide an alternative Seminar For Parenting Plans.
            (C) The court may waive the seminar requirement for one or both parents in any case for good cause shown.
        (4) Failure to Comply. Delay, refusal or default by one parent does not excuse timely compliance by the other parent. Unless attendance at the seminar is waived, a parent who delays beyond the 60 day deadline, or who otherwise fails or refuses to complete the parenting seminar, shall be precluded from presenting any final order affecting the parenting/residential plan or finalizing the parenting plan in this action, until the seminar has been successfully completed. The court may also refuse to allow the non-complying party to seek affirmative relief in this or subsequent proceedings until the seminar is successfully completed. Willful refusal or delay by either parent may constitute contempt of court and result in sanctions imposed by the court, or may result in the imposition of monetary terms, default, and/or striking of pleadings.
        (5) Finalizing Parenting Plans. All parties are required to attach to their proposed Final Parenting Plan a true and accurate signed and dated copy of the certificate of completion of the Seminar For Parenting Plans.  No final parenting plan shall be entered without said certificate or a court order waiving attendance.
        (6) Fee. Each party attending a seminar shall pay a fee charged by the provider and sanctioned by the court. The court may waive the fee for indigent parties.
   (d) Permanent Parenting Plan, Custody or Visitation Modifications.
        (1) Starting an Action to Modify a Permanent Parenting Plan.
            (A) This rule applies to actions to modify final parenting plans, and final custody or visitation orders, except for adjustments related to the relocation of a child. See LFLR 15 for proceedings involving relocation of a child.
            (B) The moving party shall attach to the petition a copy of the current parenting plan and all other effective orders affecting parenting, custody, and visitation. Copies of any orders which were entered outside King County shall be certified.
        (2) Adequate Cause Hearing.
            (A) Adequate Cause Requirement. A threshold determination of adequate cause is required for any modification or adjustment of a final parenting plan, whether major, minor, residential or non-residential in nature. An order of adequate cause may be entered by agreement of the parties, by default, or after an adequate cause hearing. This rule does not limit the Court’s authority under Chapter 7.105 RCW.
            (B) Timing of Adequate Cause Hearing: The adequate cause hearing may not be heard before the deadline for filing the response to the petition has passed. All requirements of LFLR 6 shall apply to the adequate cause hearing.
            (C) Finding of Adequate Cause:If adequate cause is found, the matter shall remain scheduled for trial.  A copy of the Adequate Cause Order shall be attached to the Confirmation of Issues.
        (3) Entry of Temporary Orders.
            (A) Types of Temporary Orders. Once a finding of adequate cause has been found, the court may enter temporary orders, including but not limited to: a temporary parenting plan, a referral for mediation, investigation, or evaluation; appointment of an evaluator, attorney for the child or Guardian ad Litem; or a referral to Unified Family Court.
            (B) Combined with Adequate Cause Hearing. A party may, but is not required to, schedule motions for temporary orders for the same time as the adequate cause hearing. Any party seeking the entry of temporary orders at the adequate cause hearing must make that request by motion pursuant to the format and notice requirements of LFLR 6.
            (C) Emergency Temporary Orders. For good cause shown, any party may move for emergency temporary orders at any time, including prior to the finding of adequate cause.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2004; amended effective September 2, 2014.]