Skip to main content

How long does a respondent have to serve the petitioner with his response to petition?

Bellingham, WA |
Filed under: Divorce

My sister met with the court facilitator and I helped her fill out the paperwork and file for divorce. I served her husband and he had until April 29th to respond. I found on WA courts that he filed his response to the petition on April 26th but he has not served her a copy yet. Does the 20 days only apply to filing with the court?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 2


My experience has been that some self-represented persons would not serve the other parties with documents that are filed with the court. Perhaps they do not know that the court rules require that a party serve all other parties with any document filed with the court. Perhaps they do not want to follow court rules.

What your sister can do is go to the courthouse and buy copies of the documents filed with the court.

Your sister can ask the court to order the husband to pay her for any cost she incurred due to his failure to follow court rules.


If the husband has filed a response, your sister cannot default him. If the response is filed before an order of default is entered, no default will be ordered. Even if he were defaulted, the courts often will vacate a default order for "excusable neglect" upon motion within one year of the default. See my AVVO Legal Guides on vacating default orders for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. To find my Legal Guides, go the AVVO website at; click on “Find a Lawyer”; enter my name and WA. On my AVVO home page click on "View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my 29 Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful.”

This AVVO Answer is provided for general educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney responding, and no attorney-client confidentiality. The law changes frequently, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information provided in this Answer is general in nature and may not apply to the factual circumstances described in your question. The applicable law and the appropriate answer may be different in the State or States where the relevant facts occurred. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation. Your question and the attorney’s answer may be used for promotional or educational purposes

Get Avvo’s 10-part divorce email series

A weekly guide with tips and legal advice for each stage of the process.

Divorce topics

Recommended articles about Divorce

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer