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Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

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Navigating a divorce is usually a difficult and often stressful situation in one’s life. The challenge can be exacerbated if your partner’s filing for divorce comes as a surprise. Although there are pros and cons to being the first to file for divorce, an advantage to consider comes from being well-prepared for the divorce. Many wonder, does it matter who files for divorce first? The answer varies, depending on each situation and the circumstances surrounding the divorce.

Factors To Consider When Filing For Divorce First

If you’re contemplating the question, “Should I file for divorce first?”, the answer will depend heavily on your desired goals or outcomes as there are benefits and drawbacks to being the first to file. Many attorneys believe that filing first does give the advantage of proposing the initial terms of the divorce. 

Filing first is an offensive position where the other party must respond to the filing and take a more of a defensive position. For tumultuous relationships, filing first may prevent your spouse from retaliating or taking extreme measures.

In general, the party to file first sets the pace for the divorce proceedings because filing starts the legal clock. But note that filing first does not give you any inherent right over the proceeding.

Filing first may be advantageous due to several factors:

  • You’re likely to present your case first. Although this requires you to prepare your case faster and means that your spouse will hear your arguments before preparing their own, presenting first may benefit your legal strategy and allow you to clearly state what your position is on issues like division of property and child custody.
  • You can set the pace according to your own needs. Once you file, the court will set dates for discovery and trial. By committing to filing first, you will have already prepared your case and know the important evidence needed to support your arguments. This allows you to set the schedule for not only court dates but also work-and family-related issues.
  • You’re likely to be more prepared for the proceedings. As the party initiating the divorce, you most likely had more time to find the necessary resources and documentation. You could also spend this time gathering proof of your finances and assets to ensure that the property is accounted for fairly.  

While being the first to file has its advantages, doing so also comes with some drawbacks. 

These disadvantages can include:

  • Paying more fees. In some cases, being the first to file means you must assume the initial costs of the divorce. Those costs can include the court filing fee and fees for serving the documents on the other party, which usually amount to a few hundred dollars.  Of course, you will incur attorneys’ fees. However, you would likely incur those fees whether you file for divorce or respond to your spouse’s filing.  
  • Initiating the divorce. Although you may be ready to file, actually initiating a divorce can be an emotionally difficult task. Doing so sets the process in motion and begins the process of becoming legally single. While this may be what you want, it still carries an emotional burden.
  • Revealing your demands to your spouse. By filing first, your spouse learns exactly what you seek in the settlement because they will receive a copy of the documents when they are served. Regardless of whether you have children or complex assets, this provides your spouse the opportunity to prepare a legal response to your position. 

For these reasons, whether it matters who files for divorce first is a question best answered after a conversation with a legal professional.

Divorce Lawyers For Men Is Here for You

When considering the question, “should I file for divorce first?”, there are several factors you should take into account. These include whether you’re prepared to truly initiate the separation, and how much you expect to pay in court fees.

However, whether you decide to file first or not, contemplating doing so enables you to strategize your goals for the divorce and prepare for the process, which is just as important.

By being well-prepared, you can feel some control over your circumstances, have all the important documentation collected, arrange your financial and personal affairs, and begin taking the necessary steps to reach a favorable outcome.

No matter where you are in this process, Divorce Lawyers For Men is here to assist. Contact us today to get started and we’ll help you navigate the challenges and obstacles that come with filing for divorce.

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