Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

divorce papers

Divorce is never easy, even under the best circumstances. However, once you decide you no longer want to be married, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re adequately prepared and in control of the legal process ahead. Please continue reading to learn the benefits of filing for divorce first and how our experienced Pensacola Divorce Lawyer can help you fight for the best possible outcome.

Should I File For Divorce First?

While filing for divorce first won’t give you inherent rights over your spouse, it can provide numerous benefits. If you’re the one to file for divorce, you ultimately get to choose when the process begins. This means you will have control over how fast the divorce progresses. After filing the divorce complaint, you start the clock. The non-filing spouse will have no choice but to respond to the petition within the court’s legally prescribed time limit. Therefore, while your spouse is crafting their response, you can work with an experienced lawyer on the next steps. You can ensure you have evidence or anything else you need for the impending process. It’s crucial to note that if you and your spouse live in different jurisdictions, you will also be in control of where the divorce process occurs.

In addition, if you need temporary court orders during divorce proceedings, you must file first. Being the petitioner means you have the opportunity to file for temporary child and spousal support orders, as well as rulings such as restraining orders in situations involving domestic violence. These orders can limit what each party can do with marital assets, protect one party from the other, and grant temporary child or spousal support. The non-filing spouse is allowed to respond to requests for temporary orders; however, their response must be filed before or at the same time as their response to the divorce petition. Essentially, the non-filing spouse cannot request any temporary orders until after they have filed their response to the petition.

Furthermore, you will make the first impression on the court if you file for divorce first. As the petitioner, you provide the court with the paperwork related to your case. This means they will examine your statements about the grounds for the divorce. Any allegations will be the first information that the court receives. You will also be able to protect your assets. Some spouses, especially those in high-net-worth divorces, will attempt to hide assets. Filing first means you can monitor your financial accounts and any physical assets to prevent an unfair property division.

If a divorce is imminent, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined lawyer from The Law Office of James M. Burns, who can help guide you through every step of the complex legal process.