Family Court Facilitator
Contacting the Family Court Facilitator
About the Family Law Program
The Family Court Facilitator program was established in Spokane County to provide assistance to citizens who choose to or who cannot afford an attorney to represent them in matters dealing with divorce (dissolution), custody, child support, and paternity custody matters. Because of a reduction in free legal service programs, more than half of the cases filed have a pro se (self-represented) litigant involved. The Family Court Facilitator is a non-attorney who provides information to individuals who represent themselves in Superior Court in family law/domestic relations matters.
Family Law / Domestic Relations Matters
Family law / domestic relations matters may include:
- Dissolution/Legal Separation/Invalidity of a Marriage
- Modification of Custody/Parenting Plan
- Modification of Child Support Order
- Establishment of Parentage (Paternity)
- Contempt of a Court Order
- Minor Guardianships
What Can Be Provided
Information the Family Court Facilitator may provide:
- What mandatory forms are available and how to acquire them.
- Which forms to complete to begin and to finalize a legal action.
- Review of completed forms for procedural correctness (necessary blanks filled in and signed where required).
- Explain local procedures for setting motions and other hearings on the court calendars.
- Informational brochures and instruction sheets relating to domestic relation matters.
- Information regarding referrals to mediation, legal, social service and governmental agencies.
Your time is valuable, so make the most of your visit with the Family Court Facilitator. The first
step is to go to Spokane County’s web site (link below) and access/download instructions
that pertain to your family law circumstance. The next step is to access/download the forms
you need from Washington State’s court website (link below). Read the instructions carefully and make a note of the questions you have. Have your documents filled out as much as possible; that way the Facilitator will be able to review the documents with you to see if they are filled out properly. Try to answer the Facilitator’s questions clearly and briefly.
Please DO NOT bring children with you to the Facilitator’s office. The CHILDREN’S WAITING ROOM is a free staffed area for children while their parents/guardians are conducting courthouse business. The Children’s Waiting Room is located in the Broadway Center Building, 721 North Jefferson, Room 101. Please contact them directly for more information at 509-960-0532.
The Family Court Facilitator cannot give you legal advice or predict what the Court will do in your case. Only an attorney in private practice or in a volunteer legal services program can advise you about your rights and responsibilities, and which course of action is best for you.
Scheduled Appointments: You MUST come into the Family Law Center, Room 200 of the Spokane County Courthouse, to set your appointment time. The Court Facilitator’s office is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to noon and 1:00pm to 4:30pm. Appointments are scheduled daily for 20 minutes each. You may not set your appointment by phone, email or online. We require 24-hour advance notice in order to cancel and/or reschedule an appointment. Everyone who enters the Courthouse must go through a security screen (like at the airport), so allow extra time for that. Parking meters near the courthouse take coins or can be paid electronically through an app.
Court Facilitator commonly asked questions:
May I personally serve the other party?
Typically, no. Process service usually must be done by a third party and at your expense.
Will the court arrange service for me?
The court does not arrange service of the other party.
Can I mail the documents?
It depends on the documents. Rules on service are very complex. Please study them carefully and ask for clarification.
Where do I find instructions for family law matters?
It is suggested you first print the instructions applicable to your type of case, and then download and print the forms from the State’s website.
Where do I get the forms?
The Washington Courts website https://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/
Once there, click on the button that says Go to the Court Forms Page, then click on Family Law
which will open up a list forms. Do not use a Google search for a particular form number as
outdated forms are often left posted online. It is very important that you use current forms.
Where do I file?
The clerk’s office is located in Room 300 of the courthouse, whose address is
West 1116 Broadway, Spokane WA 99260.
What are the fees for family law cases?
The fee schedule for most actions is on the County Clerk’s web site https://www.spokanecounty.org/2095/Fee-Schedule#civil
What forms of payment are accepted?
Cash and cards may be used for the filing fees. Checks may be used to pay for photocopies only.
What is the Share the Children Class for?
To help parents navigate sharing their children, when they are divorced or never married. Is it required? Yes.
How do I know if the other party has responded?
You may contact the clerk’s office
at 509 - 477 - 2211 option 6.
How do I check to be sure I’m on the docket? What time is my hearing? Where is my hearing?
Go to Spokane County’s website and search for family court dockets -
What is a status conference?
If your case has not been concluded, a status conference is held
before your assigned Judge for the parties to advise the court of the status of their case.
How do I know if a father’s name is on birth certificate?
Check with the Health Department for the state in which the child was born.
How do I waive the filing fee?
Get form GR34 in the clerk’s office or download the form at https://www.spokanecounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/38471/Waiver-of-Filing-Fees-Form and once filled out, present your form to the ex parte court – Courtroom 202.
What are the background checks for?
There is a law that requires the court to run background
checks on both parents, when finalizing a parenting plan. If that background check
includes matters that could put children at risk of harm, the judicial officer may ask you or
the other parent to explain and answer questions about your background record.
Do the documents need notarized?
Where do I get a free attorney?
You may wish to contact the Volunteer Lawyers through CLEAR. Their telephone is 1 - 888 - 201 - 1014. Spokane County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers website: https://www.spokanevlp.org/
How do I get a public defender?
Public defenders are not available for family law cases.
How do I terminate my parental rights?
That may only be done by an adoption or a juvenile court
Court Facilitator pro se (represent yourself) common mistakes:
• Don’t read/follow instructions
• Petitioner serves other party
• Defective proof of service, such as not listing all documents which were served
• Put incorrect date on notice of hearing
• Failure to completely fill out documents – particularly child support worksheets
• Failure to show at hearings
• Failure to respond to original petition
• Didn’t sign summons or provide their or the court’s address
ROBEN ESVELD – FAMILY COURT FACILITATOR
PHONE: 509-477-7612 - ROOM 200 – Spokane County Courthouse
If you are working on a Residential Schedule Action and want the Family Court Facilitator to review your documents, you must have proof of paternity in the court file or with you to sign in. That would include the original copy of Paternity Affidavit or birth certificate or certified copy of the same.