In King County, Local Rule 13 requires parents of minor children (kids under 18) involved in many types of family law cases to attend a parenting seminar during the sixty days following the filing of a petition. As this is a part of many of the cases we handle at Blair & Kim, we hope to provide some information related to this seminar.
King County Local Rule 13, requires that both parents attend the seminar with in the first sixty days after a petition is filed. Many parents get anxious about attending this seminar as they are unsure about the purpose and how it will impact their case. The reality is, most parents find the seminar useful and not an unpleasant way to spend a few hours. If parents do attend during the first sixty days, the parenting seminar is unlikely to affect their case at all.
For some parents, a big concern is whether they have to attend the seminar together. Fortunately, the rule specifically states that opposing parties are not required to attend together. It is of special importance that in cases involving allegations of domestic violence, the parties not attend the seminar together as it may result in a violation of a court order (or amount to further allegations of domestic violence).
The seminar may be taken at either the Kent or Seattle courthouse. Upon completion, parents will receive a certificate of seminar completion. This will be submitted to the court with final orders.
There are a number of potential consequences for parents that fail to attend the seminar during the sixty days following the filing of the petition. The most benign consequence is a small penalty fee. Other potential consequences include not being permitted to participate fully (or at all) in the proceedings and being denied the ability to seek affirmative relief from the courts. Also, it is important to consider how the court or other decision maker is going to feel about a parent’s continued failure to attend a seminar meant to help parents preserve the children’s best interest during and after the proceedings. The courts are guided by the best interest of the child in their decision-making. They are unlikely to think favorably of a parent who can’t make the time to attend a seminar geared toward protecting the child’s best interest during the proceedings. In limited circumstances, a waiver of attendance may be provided by the court.
King County is not the only county that requires a parenting seminar. Many other counties require some form of the parenting seminar before a final parenting plan will be entered. Pro se parties will likely receive information about any requirements of a family law seminar as part of their initial filing. The responding party will likely receive this information when served with the initial documents. If you have an attorney, your attorney can help you determine whether and when you have to attend the seminar. (County court clerks are also often a helpful resource for questions on these matters.)
If you would like to speak with a family law attorney about your parenting plan or other family law issue, please contact Blair & Kim today.