Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

Ending a marriage is never pleasant. But if you and your spouse have tried and failed to salvage your marriage, divorce may be your only option. But does it matter who files for divorce first?

While there is no right or wrong when it comes to filing first, there are some pros and cons to keep in mind.

Advantages of Filing for Divorce First

One advantage to filing first is that you can control the subsequent proceedings. Depending on whether the situation is volatile or amicable, filing first gives you the element of surprise. This can be a great tactic for fraught relationships where you know your spouse will retaliate, since you’re essentially catching them off guard.

In addition, filing for divorce first can bring the following benefits:

  • Having a say in the divorce proceedings. The spouse who files first usually gets to decide on the court dates and the jurisdiction in which the divorce will take place.
  • Getting prepared for the divorce. Since you’re the one initiating the divorce, you more than likely have more time to prepare than your ex. This will give you a chance to obtain all the necessary papers and documents before your spouse has a chance to hide money or assets.
  • Telling your side of the story first. In many instances, the court will first examine the papers that were filed first. This means that you can effectively tell your side of the story before your spouse. In addition, you’ll also have the chance to present your case first during the trial and hearings.
  • Obtaining separate property sooner. California law mandates that property and assets gained during a marriage are community property and must be divided equally. By initiating the process of divorce, you can essentially ensure that you’ll obtain separate property much sooner.
  • Obtaining immediate relief. If your spouse moves out and fails to help pay for bills or keeps your children away from you, starting the divorce process can offer immediate relief.

Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First

With advantages comes disadvantages. You should also be aware of the negative aspects of filing for divorce first. For the most part, these negative aspects deal with money and strategy. They are as follows:

  • Alerting your spouse to your demands. When filing for divorce, you typically must list out your desires and demands. When your petition is served, your spouse gets the chance to see all your wants, which can essentially allow them develop counterattacks.
  • Paying more fees (sometimes). An individual petitioning for divorce will need to pay a filing fee. In addition, if your attorney is busy obtaining information, then you my need to pay more attorney fees.
  • Setting forth the end of the marriage. Initiating the divorce process means you’re the first to make it a reality. Since you’ve made the first move to end the marriage, there is often little chance of reconciling afterwards.

Speak to an Experienced Fresno Divorce Attorney to Learn More

Does it matter who files for divorce first? Yes, it can. But it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of doing so. An experienced divorce attorney can help you make educated decisions to protect your interests. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks to learn more.