Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?
Marriages end in many different ways. Sometimes both spouses know that they no longer wish to be married and make the joint decision to get a divorce. Other times, one spouse announces that they want a divorce to the complete shock and dismay of the other spouse. Perhaps most commonly, a couple knows that their marriage is not doing well for months or even years before taking legal action. Both spouses hesitate to make the first move legally because they are unsure of how to even begin. They may try to hold on as long as possible before making the move to file for divorce. If you are considering divorce, you may wonder if it matters who actually files for divorce first. The answer is not simple, and there are a few factors to consider.
The Advantages of Filing First
It is important to understand that there are no real legal benefits to filing for divorce before your spouse does. During the proceedings, both you and your spouse will be subject to the same standards and have equal opportunities to make your cases to the court.
There are, however, several practical advantages of filing first. Being the first to take action with regard to the divorce gives you time to assemble the best team possible. In addition to an attorney, you may also want to hire a financial expert, mediator, or therapist. Filing first also gives you time to prepare and assemble the necessary paperwork such as bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, wills and trusts, real estate records, and retirement account statements. If your spouse has a history of being overly controlling of financial records, filing first gives you time to locate and copy all important documents. You will also have time to start saving money for the legal fees you will incur. Being the first to file is often a good idea for any spouse who worries that their partner may hide assets once they know you want a divorce.
Choosing the Venue
Filing first ahead of your spouse also lets you choose where your divorce will be adjudicated. This can be helpful in cases where the spouses live in different counties or if the two spouses share property in more than one county. Your spouse has the right to contest your choice of venue, but he or she will need convincing reasons to do so.
It should be noted, that filing first just to spite your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will not help anybody. The divorce process is already going to be emotionally draining, there is no benefit to doing things purely out of spite and anger.
Let Us Help
If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney to get the help and guidance you need. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation at MKFM Law today.