In many divorce cases, it is clear to both parties what is coming. Sometimes, however, it blindsides a party and leaves the other side unprepared.
If you sense that you and your partner are heading towards separation, is there a benefit to filing for divorce first?
Depending on the circumstances of the relationship, you may be unwilling to file first for a variety of reasons. For example, you might not want to think of yourself as the aggressor. Being the first to file does give some more legal options, however, which are outlined below.
The weeks and months leading up to an inevitable divorce can be very emotionally stressful. Living in a state of uncertainty over whether or not your spouse will file against you takes its toll. In this way, filing for divorce first gives you back a sense of control in your own life.
Besides taking back this emotional control, you also have the option to take control of your next steps from a legal perspective. You can have your entire legal team and strategies lined up before filing, giving you a headstart, so to speak, over your spouse.
Preparing evidence and documentation
The time period immediately following a declaration of divorce is when both parties need to prepare and gather documentation to support their financial claims. By being in charge of the decision to file, you can get an early start on this process, helping you to be more prepared when the time comes.
Avoid any “funny business”
In some cases, a spouse may decide to attempt to hide assets – which could have costly financial implications for a party. By getting the jump on them and filing first, you can limit the chance of any deceitful maneuvering by your ex.
Be the first to present your case
In many cases, the individual who files for divorce will be the first to present their case should it go to litigation. Being first to present has its advantages and disadvantages – on one hand you get the chance to make an early impression, but on the other your spouse and their legal team will have the chance to adapt their strategy to your initial efforts. Being aware of how filing affects the timeline of litigation will help you to decide the best approach for your situation.
Choice of Jurisdiction
Different regions may have different laws and regulations. If you and your spouse are living in different regions, the one who filed has the choice over where the litigation will take place. It may be the case that the regulations in another region will give you an edge when your case comes to court.
Lastly, being the first to file also gives you the power to force the other side to retain counsel and address the issues at hand. Although this is not guaranteed, if the other side was planning to retain counsel to act on their behalf it is more than likely they will do so when served with Court papers. This ensures that you get a response in a timely matter and there is some dialogue on the issues, rather than matters being left in limbo.
If you feel that your relationship is headed towards a divorce, the first step is to consult a family lawyer who can give you valuable advice on this issue, as well as many more. They can give counsel to cover all eventualities, including the benefits and drawbacks of filing for divorce first.