What to do if you don't have a lawyer
Typically, you will have to serve the opposing party and there are requirements as to the number of days you must serve before your hearing. Please look at the local court rules for “service” to ensure you understand these requirements:
Also, if you or your children are on any type of public assistance, you may be required to serve the prosecuting attorney’s office child-support division. Here is that address:
Cowlitz County Prosecuting Attorney
Child Support Services Division
871 – 11th Avenue
Longview, WA 98632
You may want to consider trying to get your hearing date continued (or postponed). You can find instructions at:
When you file a case asking the judge to enter a parenting plan (or residential schedule), you will need to file a proposed parenting plan (or residential schedule). If you are responding to this kind of case, you will also need to file a proposed parenting plan (or residential schedule). A proposed parenting plan (or residential schedule) is your idea of what the judge should sign. [Parenting plan is the term used in a custody or divorce case; residential schedule is the term used in a non-parental custody case.]
Usually one of the parties to a custody, dissolution or non-parental custody case requests a temporary parenting plan (or residential schedule). This is often different than the final parenting plan (or residential schedule). When you go to a court hearing where you expect the judge to enter (or sign) either a temporary or final parenting plan (or residential schedule), it is a good idea to bring an extra copy of your proposed parenting plan (or residential schedule, but make sure you fix the box on the first page that says proposed and check either temporary or final) in case the judge agrees with you and is ready to make an order.
This may change which docket you will appear on during the week. The court has a docket for people who do not have an attorney and a docket for cases in which an attorney is involved on either side or both sides of the matter. Ask the clerk which docket is appropriate.
In many cases, you may want the court to enter orders before you get your final dissolution decree and other orders. These are called temporary orders and you will need to schedule a hearing. If you are having an emergency, you may be able to ask the judge to enter an emergency order or an Ex Parte Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause. If the court has given you emergency relief, you will also need to schedule a court hearing.
If you are afraid that the other party may injure or threaten you or your children, the court can issue special orders to help protect you and your children from harm. For more information about getting a Protection Order, contact Emergency Support Shelter at 425-1176 or the statewide domestic violence hotline at 1-800-562-6025.