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Is There an Advantage to Filing First for Divorce?

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | May 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

When it comes to procedure in divorce and separation cases, most people are not familiar with the process. After all, how can you know how to do things that you've never encountered before? One example of this is the filing process. Are there advantages to filing first for divorce? Or should you wait for your spouse to file, preferring to respond rather than lead the charge? There are several advantages to filing first:

Advantage #1 

The first advantage of being the initial party to file is that you control when the action begins. Rather than being placed in a defensive/responsive position, you can be the one playing offense. By filing first, you get a sense of power of timing, and you don't have to worry about whether or when your spouse files. Though you will not dictate the remainder of the divorce process, filing first does allow you to drive the process in its earliest stages.

Advantage #2

Choice of jurisdiction and venue is another benefit of filing first. The person who files for divorce first gets to choose in which County the action will be filed. Typically, there are rules that dictate which County is the proper venue, but other times it's not so clear. You may prefer to attempt to have the case filed closer to you, or in some rare cases, you may wish to file in a distant County. Strategic decisions like these should be thoroughly discussed with your attorney so that you understand all of the ramifications involved.

Advantage #3

The biggest advantage of being the first person to file for divorce is you will usually be the one heard first in motions and at trial. Going first allows your attorney to frame the issues and head off possible shortcomings before the opposing side has an opportunity to do so. Though this isn't a decided advantage, it does help and given the choice, most experienced family law attorneys would always choose to go first and play offense rather than respond and play defense.

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J. Benjamin Stevens

Senior Partner


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