This April Washington State Superior Courts saw over 2,216 domestic and dependency court new case filings. Over 450 of these filings took place in Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston Counties alone–accounting for more than 20% of the state’s total filings for these types of family law cases. In light of the pandemic, courts are scrambling to come up with alternative operations to process these and other types of cases.
|State Superior Court New Case Filings April 2020
*Data pulled from WA Caseloads of the Courts and King County Department of Judicial Administration reports.
So what does this mean for those who are want or need to file a family law case in Washington state? What can you do if you find yourself needing assistance, but are worried or feel like you are unable to start the process due to your specific situation in light of the pandemic?
Know that you are not alone. Many people are wondering the same thing. Many think that “now may not be the time” to file their case or contact an attorney. Wherever you may find yourself, there are several things you can do to prepare and/or proceed with your family law case. Best of all, you can do these while staying home and staying healthy.
- Locate financial information. Begin pulling together financial documents. Many family law cases include delving into each person’s finances, and in those cases, you will need to obtain the following:
- 6 months of pay stubs and/or other proof of monthly income.
- 6 months of bank statements.
- 2 prior years’ tax returns and W2s. (If you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes, then just pull your 2018 return, and your 2019 W2s, for now.)
- 6 months’ credit card statements, and current retirement account statements and information.
*Now is the perfect time to download account numbers and statements from each account, and place the information and statements in a safe location that is accessible. If you are worried about someone accessing or seeing what you are doing, try using Google Drive or Dropbox Basic. These providers offer free cloud-based document management solutions that you can upload your information to, saving you money on printing paper and ink.
- Gather personal data. This includes:
- Legal names, and dates of birth, for every adult and child who might be involved in your case.
- Date and location of marriage.
- Certified copies of birth certificates (in case where children are involved but the parents never married).
- Write it down–tell your story. Family law cases are full of sensitive, emotional, and sometimes upsetting stories. Start writing yours down. If there are several events and specific dates with circumstances you need to communicate, try writing these in a timeline while including as much detail and facts as you can. Who, what, when, where, why, and how (the situation occurred). Also note if any other person has personal, first-hand knowledge of the events. Ask yourself if there is any way you can “prove” your story? Gather letters, emails, or text messages you feel may play an important role in your case.
- Contact a local attorney or firm. Local attorneys are well versed in the new emergency court protocols. In most situations, you can begin your case immediately. Look at it this way–you won’t know your options until you call. And, most firms are able to offer you consultations over the phone–some are even complimentary!
Remember, we’re all in this together, and while it may be awhile before the court systems are back to normal, there are many things you can be doing, in the meantime, to prepare for your future case.
Have questions about your situation? Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 253-272-9459.
Blog written by Dawn Nelson, Paralegal, The Levey Law Group.