Washington family law clients and attorneys alike should know that there are changes coming to the Washington State Family Law Forms. The revised forms will become required on May 1, 2016, but they are available now on the Washington Courts Website for review and preparation for adoption.
The forms are called “Plain Language” forms and are meant to be easier to read and understated. From our review, many of the forms are easier to read and understand. This will benefit pro se litigants (those people that are not being assisted by a family law attorney). It will also benefit people that have attorneys, because they won’t have to waste their valuable time having the complicated forms explained, and, instead, will be able to spend their time telling their family law attorney about the facts of their case and giving the attorney time to discuss strategy and the best way to move forward. It will also benefit people that are represented by an attorney, but are opposing a party that is pro se. These pro se opposing parties sometimes make claims that they did not understand the online forms and as such should not be held to what they agreed to therein. The Plain Language forms will be easier to understand and thus, if someone signs these documents the courts will probably be less likely to believe that a party did not understand what they were signing.
One positive addition to the revised parenting plan form is the inclusion of a start and end time for each holiday and special occasion. In the past, this was not part of the form and it was usually only with an attorney’s help that start and end times were included for these events. This was the cause of many disagreements between unmarried parents. Oftentimes, people who were unassisted by an attorney during their dissolution case decide to seek an attorney to help them resolve a post-divorce conflict with their former spouse over the start and end time of special events that were previously unaddressed. This is just one example of how the new forms have expanded the family law forms to address some common problems in interpretation or failure to include important information in family law forms.
If you are considering a family law case in Washington, you may consider reviewing these new forms. Whether you will be filing now or after May 1, 2016, your case will likely involve these new forms. Also, the forms are more helpful than past forms in explaining the law on which the forms are based.
At Blair & Kim we are prepared to help you navigate your Washington family law case. Please contact us today.