Divorce and family law cases start with a filing. This is when a person decides to actually get a divorce by paying the $280 court filing fee in order to make it happen. Last quarter (Q12014) there were 1,903 domestic cases filed according to numbers released by King County. This compares with 2,011 filings in 2013 and 1,961 filings in 2012. Overall, statistics show the number of filings holding steady during the first quarter. Unknown to most, family cases in King or Snohomish County can start off with an unlevel playing field via an ex parte order. These orders create an unlevel playing field and alter a typical case because they grant one party an advantage over another especially in cases where it starts off with a restraining order or, worse, a domestic violence protection order (“DVPO”). Domestic Violence protection orders are a hot topic within the legal community precisely because of their feasibility for abuse by the filers themselves. Each day, Commissioners in the King County Ex Parte Department grant 16 domestic violence protection orders a day. About half of the 16 orders are the result of an actual court hearing. The other half didn’t even have to get a hearing. Those petitioners managed to get a signed order by a judge upon written submission. Overall, the ex parte department enters 105 orders regarding divorce, paternity, and other family law cases each day. As I wrote, these preliminary court hearings can have a huge influence in a case as just about any family law lawyer knows all too well. These early court hearings are overly influential because they tend to set the tone of the case moving forward by granting a playing field that is substantially in favor of one spouse over the other spouse.