Whatcom Court Rules about Parenting Seminars and Mediation


Whatcom County Superior Court Local Special Proceeding Rules
(WCSPR 94.08 Filings in Family Law Cases (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (k) (l) (m))
effective September 1, 2017

WCSPR 94.08 Filings in Family Law Cases 

(d) Required Attendance at Parenting Seminar. Within 30 days after the filing of an
appearance or answer or other responsive pleading in any of the actions specified in
section (a) above which involves minor children, the parties shall register for a court
approved parenting program on the effects of family transitions on children, unless
the parties have previously attended such a course. In cases filed pursuant to the
Uniform Parentage Act, RCW 26.26, the parenting program is required only if a party
petitions for a permanent court-ordered residential schedule when no such schedule
currently exists. If domestic violence has occurred in the relationship as evidenced
by the criteria set forth in (g) (2)-(4) below, then the parties shall individually attend a
court-approved parenting program which includes the effects of family violence on
children. Each party shall attend the appropriate seminar within 60 days of
registering.

(e) After completion of the appropriate seminar, each party shall file with the court the
seminar completion certificate provided by the sponsoring agency or provider.

(f) The court may waive attendance at the parenting program upon motion for good
cause shown. Unless waived by the court, failure to attend the appropriate parenting
program may result in a finding of contempt and imposition of sanctions.

(g) Exchange of Parenting Plans. Within 14 days of completing the appropriate
program as described in (d) above, each parent shall provide the other parent with a
Proposed Parenting Plan if they have not already done so. The requirement of a
“behavioral evaluation” shall be added as a sub-category to non-emergency health
care in the Major Decisions section of the Parenting Plan. Where there is joint
decision-making, the following “red flag” behavior provision shall be included in the
Parenting Plan:

(1) The parents shall be responsible to observe and note at-risk behavior of the
children, including, but not limited to:
(i) Depressed mood or verbalizing suicidal thoughts,
(ii) Increase in aggressive behavior or acting out,
(iii) Running away from home,
(iv) Abnormal amount of physical illness,
(v) Changes in sleeping or eating habits,
(vi) Undesirable changes in school confirmed by teacher, such as significant drop
in grades, missing classes, disciplinary problems, etc.,
(vii) Juvenile delinquency problems.
(2) If any of the above symptoms or problems occur and last for two weeks or more,
the parents shall address the problem with each other and with the child.
(3) If the parents see no change in the symptoms or behavior within two weeks, the
child’s health care physician shall evaluate the child. The parents have designated
Dr. _____________________ as the child’s health care physician.

(h) Mediation in Contested Cases. Except as provided in section (g) below, in all
cases specified in section (a) having unresolved issues (except child support issues),
both parties shall in good faith engage in mediation with a court approved mediator in
an effort to resolve the case. The parties may either agree to a mediator from the
court approved list or the mediator will be determined by use of a strike list. The cost
of mediation shall be paid by the parties in proportion to their incomes. Either party
may seek a court apportionment of the cost of mediation.

(i) When Mediation Is Not Required. Mediation shall be required as provided in section
except in the following cases:

(1) For good cause shown upon motion and approval by the court; or
(2) Where a domestic violence restraining order or protection order (excluding
ex-parte orders) involving the parties has been entered by a court at any time
within the previous 12 months;
(3) Where a domestic violence no contact order exists pursuant to RCW 10.99;
(4) Where the court upon motion finds that domestic abuse has occurred
between the parties and that such abuse would interfere with arm’s length
mediation.

(j) Notwithstanding the foregoing, either party may by motion seek a court order requiring
mediation in a case where it would not be required otherwise, if the moving party
believes that the parties would be able to mediate their dispute and that mediation is
reasonably likely to promote or achieve resolution.

(k) Settlement Conferences. If, after mediation in good faith, or where mediation is not
required, there remain unresolved issues in any case specified in section (a), the parties
shall personally participate in a settlement conference conducted by a judicial officer or,
for good cause shown, a person approved by the court in advance. Five days prior to the
settlement conference, each party shall submit their list of unresolved issues to the
settlement officer. The settlement conference shall take place no later than 2 weeks prior
to trial. See also the Pro Se Instructions for Setting Settlement Conference and Trial
Dates; WCSPR 94.08, and the Family Law Settlement Conference Instructions, all of
which can be found on the Whatcom County Superior Court web page under “Local
Forms – Domestic.”

(l) Exchange of Settlement Offers. If the settlement conference does not result in
complete resolution of the case, each party shall submit to the other a written settlement
proposal addressing all unresolved issues. This offer shall be submitted within 5 days of
the settlement conference.

(m) Failure to Comply. A party’s compliance with the provisions of this rule may be
enforced upon Motion and Order to Show Cause. Unless compliance is waived by the
court for good cause shown, the court may order appropriate sanctions including costs,
attorney’s fees, and adoption of the complying party’s proposal.

Source:   Whatcom County Superior Court Proceeding Rules,
WCSPR 94.08 Filings in Family Law Cases (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (k) (l) (m)