Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

A common question is whether there is an advantage to being the first to file a new divorce action.  The answer is that it depends on your particular situation.  In the eyes of the court, the parties to a case are not seen differently just based on who files first.  In other words, a judge is not generally going to hold it against you that you were the party who filed the case or if you were the party against whom a case was filed.

Your attorney may, however, advise you to file first or wait until your spouse files depending on the overall strategy of your particular case.  For example, if there is a concern that your spouse may transfer or deplete assets, your attorney may advise you to move quickly in order to request that the court enter restraining orders to prevent your spouse from transferring or disposing of assets.  Conversely, in some situations parties will separate and you may have a beneficial, informal arrangement such as your estranged spouse continuing to pay all of your monthly living expenses.  In that case, you would probably be better served waiting for your spouse to file.

Obviously, the decision of whether to file at all is one of the first decisions a person has to make in a divorce situation.  That decision is one that should be made after careful consultation with your attorney and as part of your overall litigation strategy.

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