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Is There a Disadvantage to Filing for Divorce First?

Posted by LEISA WINTZ | Sep 25, 2023 | 2 Comments

A couple signing the divorce papers

Deciding to end a marriage is a challenging and life-altering decision. It's a process fraught with emotional and legal complexities, and one of the early choices you'll make is whether to file for divorce first. The question arises: Is there a disadvantage to filing for divorce first? Let's delve into the benefits and disadvantages of taking the initiative in divorce proceedings.

Does It Make a Difference Who Files for Divorce First?

In many cases, the legal outcome of a divorce isn't significantly affected by who files first. Courts generally prioritize fairness and impartiality. However, some specific circumstances might impact the divorce proceedings:

  • Asset Protection: Filing first can be beneficial if you suspect your spouse might attempt to hide assets or engage in financial misconduct. It allows you to secure an injunction preventing the dissipation of marital assets.
  • Custody Considerations: If you're concerned about child custody arrangements, filing first could help you establish the status quo and demonstrate your commitment to your children's well-being.
  • Choice of Legal Counsel: The first filer often has the advantage of choosing the attorney they want, leaving the other party to find representation afterward.

Benefits of Filing for Divorce First

  1. Setting the Pace: Filing for divorce first allows you to dictate the timeline. You can initiate the process at a time that suits you, giving you more control over the divorce's progression.
  2. Choice of Jurisdiction: If you and your spouse live in different states or counties, filing first might allow you to choose the jurisdiction that you believe will be more favorable to your case.
  3. Legal Strategy: Being the petitioner allows you to present your case first. This can be advantageous if you have a strong argument and want to set the tone for negotiations.
  4. Psychological Advantage: Initiating the divorce can provide a sense of empowerment and control over an otherwise tumultuous situation.

Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First

  1. Financial Responsibility: As the petitioner, you might be responsible for the filing fees and other initial costs associated with the divorce.
  2. Reactive Response: Filing first might prompt your spouse to respond with legal action of their own. This could lead to a more adversarial divorce process.
  3. Less Time to Prepare: Initiating the divorce means you may have less time to gather documentation and prepare your case compared to the respondent.
  4. Increased Stress: Being the one to start the process can be emotionally taxing, as it may feel like you are taking the blame or instigating the end of the marriage.

In the complex journey of divorce, the question of whether to file first or not is just one of many. It's a decision that deserves careful consideration but should not overshadow the importance of having the right legal guidance throughout the entire process. To ensure your rights are protected, your assets are fairly divided, and your children's well-being is the top priority, consult with an experienced family law attorney today. At Family Matters, we can provide you with the tailored advice and support you need to navigate this challenging time and make informed decisions about your future. Don't hesitate; take the first step towards a smoother divorce process. Contact us today and schedule a consultation.

About the Author


Leisa Wintz originally began her career as a marriage and family therapist. Ms. Wintz went on to attend law school and started practicing family law in 2009. However, she quickly realized that many family law practices lacked the empathy and compassion she believed were necessary in order to achi...


Pedro Quinones Reply

Posted Feb 15, 2024 at 10:42:26

How much does the divorce cost it should be cheaper because of woman are being abused not fair to the women


Posted Feb 15, 2024 at 12:15:44

The costs of a divorce vary. The filing fee is usually around $400. The attorney’s fees can vary greatly, we offer full representation on divorces that range from $3500+, but we also offer DIY Coaching to do-it-yourself, and that could be much less.

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