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Articles Tagged with county

If Washington State has jurisdiction over a dissolution case and the involved parties, the next question is usually which county to file the dissolution petition in.  While Washington State law applies to all cases, regardless of the county of filing, there are times that people want to choose one venue over another.  Sometimes a choice of which county to file in has an easy answer.

For example, if both parties to a family law case live in Island County, the case should be filed in Island County.  But what happens when one party lives in Pierce County, and the other is in King County?  In these cases the rules of venue become especially important.  RCW 26.09.010(2) permits that proceedings may be filed in the superior court of the county where the petitioner (the party filing the petition) resides.  However, if the petitioner does not reside in the county where he or she files the case, the respondent may have an absolute right to have the venue changed to the county in which the respondent resides. Continue reading

Jurisdiction is the power of a court to make decisions regarding an issue or case. In family law, questions of jurisdiction can be very simple, extremely complex, or somewhere in between. For example, if the parties (to a family law action) have children and all involved parties and children live in Washington (and the children have been in the state for six months), Washington courts will have jurisdiction. Unfortunately, things are not always this simple. Family law actions are often precipitated by one parent and/or spouse moving out of the state. So where is the proper place to file if the parties live in two different states?

Jurisdiction over most family law cases is governed by RCW 4.28.185. This permits Washington courts jurisdiction over nonresident parties (i.e., parties living outside the state) if the nonresident party may have conceived a child in the state, lived as a married couple in the state, agrees to jurisdiction in Washington, or if the petitioning party still lives here or is a member of the armed services stationed here. Please note, even if the court does not have personal jurisdiction over the nonresident party, the court may still dissolve the marriage of the parties, but it will be unable to divide property and liabilities.

Jurisdiction in cases involving child custody is governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This act requires that jurisdiction over initial custody determinations be made by the child’s home state. (The home state may  decline jurisdiction if Washington is deemed a more appropriate forum.) The home state is the state where the child has lived for six months prior to the filing of the action. (If the child is under six months of age then the child’s home state is where the child has lived since birth.) The issue of jurisdiction can be further complicated if the child and both parents are no longer present in the state that would otherwise be deemed the child’s home state, but the child has not been in a new state long enough to create a new home state.

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