‘Cooling off’ after divorce filing: What to know

On Behalf of | May 5, 2023 | Divorce

When people decide to marry, they can file the paperwork and be married just three days later. However, when people decide to divorce, they must wait at least 90 days per state rules. This “cooling off” period can catch some people off-guard, so it is important to know what it can entail if you are considering divorce.

When the clock starts

In Washington, courts will not finalize a divorce until 90 days after parties file and serve the necessary paperwork. 

It is crucial to note that this timeline varies widely between states. Parties may need to wait longer to meet residency or separation requirements, and in some states, you could be waiting as long as 300 days. Thus, if you have options for where to file, this cooling-down period could be an essential factor to consider.

Protecting yourself

The time between filing for divorce and finalization can be highly stressful. People can feel frustrated, angry and vulnerable, which can mean heated emotions and poor decisions.

During this time, you will want to make every effort to protect yourself financially, physically and emotionally. Some things you might do include:

  • Freezing bank accounts and other marital assets
  • Securing protection orders
  • Working out temporary support agreements
  • Relocating
  • Meeting with a counselor

These measures can make it possible to take care of yourself and your well-being during a tumultuous time.

Tasks to accomplish during this time

It is possible that the cooling-off period does lead you and your spouse to reflect, rethink and reconcile. Thus, during these 90 days, you may be going to counseling or working with each other to repair the relationship. 

However, if reconciliation is not in the cards, you can still accomplish quite a bit during this time to keep the divorce process moving. For instance, you can meet with your lawyer, organize financial records and talk to your kids about their thoughts. Negotiating various divorce-related matters with your spouse is also going to be crucial.

These tasks can help you expedite the process so that when the 90-day waiting period is up, the divorce can move as quickly as possible.