Welcome to Pierce County Family Court
Pierce County Family Court consists of two judicial departments, commissioners and Family Court Services (supervisor, legal assistant, case coordinator and two staff GALs). It is a team dedicated to implementing the plan for Family Court while putting into practice learned lessons to reduce conflict and timely resolve disputes involving the custody of children.
The main goals of Family Court include:
- Identify, segregate and prioritize cases involving the custody of children.
- Provide consistent and timely judicial decision-making with intensive case management, settlement conferences and education to litigants using Impact on Children seminars to speed case resolution and reduce conflict.
- Provide early judicial intervention.
Main Types of Cases
The types of cases that are in Family Court:
- Modification of Custody
- Minor Guardianships (including Termination or Modification of a Non-parental custody decree.)
- When a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is authorized in a matter involving parenting plans (dissolutions, legal separations, petition for residential schedule) and there is at least 90 days until the original trial date
- De Facto Parentage Petitions
- Relative Visitation Petitions
- UCCJEA hearings and Out of State Custody Registrations
Use the links below to help your understanding of Family Court procedures and processes.
Specific to Pierce County
- Neighborhood Legal and Family Law Clinics - This is a local listing of available clinics and is provided by Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association Volunteer Legal Services.
- Activity Book - Here is an activity book for children going to court.
- Noncompliance Order and Hearings - How to respond to a noncompliance order and links to documents and other sites to answer your questions.
- Parenting Seminars - Here are details regarding the approved Impact on Children Seminar required for dissolutions, modifications of custody, non-parental custody and establishment of residential schedules filed in Pierce County.
- Reuniting Your Family: You Can Make It Happen - This is a video by Pierce County Juvenile Court.
- Top Ten Ways to Protect Your Kids During your Break Up - This is a helpful book written by Dr. Joan Kelly.
- Trial Overview - Learn about going to trial without an attorney.
- Uncontested Dissolutions - Find out how you can finalize your dissolution without a trial.
- What You Need for a Family Law Trial - Read trial information for family law cases.
Non Parental Law Change as of January 1, 2021
Now to filed as a Minor Guardianship
Now to filed as a Minor Guardianship
As of January 1, 2021, the New Minor Guardianship statute, RCW 11.130.185 et seq. took effect and RCW 26.10 regarding Non-Parental Custody petitions was repealed. This repeal also included Modification of a Non-Parental Custody Decree which is now under the new minor guardianship statutes (see RCW 11.130.245).
Modification or Termination of an existing Non-Parental Custody decree, should be filed as a minor guardianship (type 4) case. Washington Courts published new mandatory pattern forms (www.courts.wa.gov/forms) which are required when filing a Petition to Terminate or Change a Minor Guardianship or Non-Parent Custody Order. See Washington Pattern form GDN M 502.
Governor Inslee’s Proclamation of December 30, 2020, extended the deadline to resolve any pending Non Parental Custody cases (including modifications of a NPC decree) that had been filed on or before December 31, 2020, but prohibits anyone from filing a new third party custody case pursuant to RCW 26.10. There is no definite date as to when the extension period will end (until the COVID state of emergency ends or notice by the governor and legislature), so please work to get your case resolved as soon as possible.