The Spokane County Superior Court released the following information regarding Family Law Orders during the COVID-19 pandemic:
ALL FAMILY LAW ORDERS MUST BE FOLLOWED This includes: • Parenting Plans • Restraining Orders • Child Support Orders, and • Any other temporary or final order signed by a judicial officer.
CHILD SUPPORT You must continue to pay your child support obligation. If you are unable to pay your child support obligation for any reason, you may discuss your options with the Washington State Division of Child Support at (800) 442-5437.
You may not withhold parenting time from a parent for failing to pay support.
PARENTING PLANS MUST BE FOLLOWED Court-ordered parenting time must be followed and permitted when possible. If the government is permitting individuals to leave their homes to obtain necessary provisions, go for walks, etc., then the court deems CHILD EXCHANGES AS ESSENTIAL.
Spring/Summer Break, Vacation and/or Holidays: Parents shall follow their children’s 2019-20 school calendar to determine when spring break begins and ends and when summer begins. While school may be out of session, this is not considered summer break, spring break, or a holiday.
Parenting Time in Public Places: Governor Inslee has forbidden all nonessential gatherings, regardless of size. If the parenting plan states that parenting time will occur in a public place, parenting time should continue at locations that are permitted under the health and safety guidelines for the state, such as a large park or nature hike. If that is not possible, then the parenting time should be conducted virtually via videoconferencing or, as a last resort by telephone.
Supervised Parenting Time: If parenting time is ordered to be supervised, and the supervisor is unavailable due to COVID-19-related issues or government orders, the parties should work collaboratively to ensure parenting time continues to occur in a manner that promotes the children’s safety and well-being, such as finding an alternative supervisor. If that is not possible, then the parenting time should be conducted virtually via videoconferencing or by telephone.
Parenting Plan Impossible to Follow: In those limited circumstances where parenting time cannot be followed, for example because the exchange requires the child to fly to the other parent and the airline has cancelled those flights, parents should liberally allow the other parent time with the child via videoconferencing or by telephone.
Exchanges "after school" or "at school": If your child is not attending school and it is an exchange day, communicate with the other parent and find an agreed upon exchange time and location. If no other time is specified in writing, use the approximate time school would have been out (for example, 3:00p.m). If you can’t exchange the child at someone’s home, find a public place as close to the child’s school as possible to make the exchange.
Other Parent is not Protective: You may feel the other parent is not protective or not following a structured schedule that you have set up in your home. This is not a basis to withhold parenting time. Unless there are court findings that a parent’s residential time must be limited, each parent is able to use their own judgment about what to do when they have the child, so long as their actions are not violating the law. There is an emergency motion process if you feel your circumstances necessitate emergency attention of the Court.
COURT HEARINGS – EMERGENCY ONLY The Court is hearing emergency family law motions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please refer to the Family Law Procedure located on the Superior Court website for information about how an emergency can be determined and the setting of the hearing. Cases will be heard by the available judicial officers and not necessarily the assigned court commissioner or assigned Judge.
Domestic Violence Protection Order hearings will be set on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays in the morning and afternoon. Please refer to the protection order instructions on the Spokane County Superior Court website.
Ex Parte hours are from 1:30 – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday.
For more information, court-wide announcements for Spokane County Superior Court can be found here: https://www.spokanecounty.org/1140/Superior-Court.
Please check back frequently as changing circumstances may require modification of these and other policies and procedures.