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Does filing for divorce first matter?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2023 | Divorce

After talking endlessly about trying to make your marriage work, you and your spouse finally decide that the best course of action is to get a divorce. In a no-fault divorce state like Washington, it should not matter who files for divorce first. However, it makes a significant difference when one spouse requests for temporary orders.

What are temporary orders?

A divorce is not an instant process. It usually takes at least 91 days for a divorce to finalize in Washington. Temporary orders provide interim conditions while you and your spouse are still sorting out the permanent aspects of the divorce.

Temporary orders can provide answers to the following questions:

  • Who will live in the family home for the duration of the divorce?
  • Who will the children be staying with?
  • Who will be providing child support while the divorce is not yet finalized?
  • Is there a need for temporary spousal maintenance?
  • If yes, who will be paying for temporary spousal maintenance?
  • Who gets the car or cars?
  • Who pays for the bills?
  • Does either spouse need to find a job to pay child custody after the divorce?

The first spouse who requests for temporary orders will get a practical advantage over the other. It also gives perspective as to what the outcome of the case may look like. The petitioner can immediately request for temporary orders when they file for divorce, but the other spouse can request to modify the temporary orders at any time.

Do I need to file for temporary orders?

Requesting temporary orders is usually unnecessary because you and your spouse can rely on informal agreements while waiting. But if you cannot decide on these matters, you may need to go through the temporary hearing to figure out the best set-up for everyone involved.