News

Court costs due to increase

In order to provide money to improve and streamline Washington’s Superior Court system, filing certain court documents will become a bit more expensive as of July 24.

The state-mandated action raises the filing fee from $120 to $200 and increases the cost of a divorce action from $120 to $250.

For the first time in Washington State, there will be a charge to file

a counterclaim in civil cases.

Chief Deputy Clerk Allison Sonntag said the county will assemble a committee of representatives from all concerned parties to determine how much money will be made available and how it should be distributed.

Some of the possibilities include facilities improvement and the hiring of extra personnel.

“I’m glad they’re allocating some money to the courts rather than just providing it as an afterthought,” Sonntag said.

Sonntag said most people won’t notice the change as they are operating with attorneys who understand the fees. On the other hand, people who file their own actions already complain about high fees.

These changes represent the first increase in basic filing fees in more than 10 years.

According to Kitsap County Clerk Dave Peterson, the state Legislature put these increases in place to help fund assistance to victims of domestic violence and to pay a percentage of the salary of District Court judges.

From the savings generated by court fees paying part of judge salaries, the county is charged with establishing a local Court Improvement Fund, which will better help the courts meet their needs.

Port Orchard attorney Bruce Danielson said that a raise in small claims court would have greater impact, but this change is “insignificant in the overall scheme of things.”

He also feels the increase is reasonable.

“All costs are going up and the system needs money to operate,” he said.

A complete listing of the new fees may be found on the county clerk’s Web site at www.kitsapgov.com/clerk/

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