Snohomish County Divorce & Family Law
SNOHOMISH COUNTY DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW PROCEDURE
This is an overview of how the legal system works in Snohomish County, for family law and divorce cases. 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. The Snohomish County Rules are here.
New Cases. When you initially file a divorce, or any new action, you need a Summons, a Petition, and some other files, depending on what kind of case you are filing. These are statewide pattern forms. The statewide forms are here. These are samples only; they are not guaranteed to work for your case.
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. Snohomish County forms are 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 will use to track your case 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. (Here.) 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. 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 the case 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 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 really want to set the case for trial. (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 What About The Children. This is a low fee, but paid, seminar. It lasts about 4 hours. The seminar websites are listed here.
Trial. See Section on Trials.
Mediation. Just like in King County, Snohomish County requires mediation before you can go to trial. But Snohomish County goes one better: you can’t even confirm a trial, unless you certify you have been to mediation. It doesn’t have to work; it doesn't have to be very long; but you do have to try it. Certificate of Mediation is here
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 14 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.
On the day you set, show up at court. 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.
FAQ – SNOHOMISH COUNTY