If you and your spouse are about to divorce, you may wonder if you should file first. Is there any advantage to filing first? Any disadvantages?
First step: Where?
If you and your spouse live in two different counties, the advantage to filing first is that you would get to choose the county. Be aware that there are rules that decide which county or counties are appropriate. That discussion needs to happen with your attorney. Sometimes that decision can be tricky. But just be aware that if you live in two different counties (or two different states), there may be a choice to be made.
About Filing Fees
The person who files first must pay the initial filing fees and service fees. This is more expensive that the fees required from the person who responds to the divorce. But, this is just at the very beginning. It does not mean that when all is said and done the first filer will end up spending more for the divorce.
The person who files first is called the “Petitioner”. The person who files the response is called the “Respondent”.
If you wait for your spouse to file, he or she may wait awhile to file, which may not work well for you. You may be ready to move things along, or you may want the temporary court orders that instruct you and your spouse how to behave and function during the time the divorce is pending. You may need to have the divorce filed sooner so that you can begin receiving child support.
If you are the one who starts the process, you will have a “heads up” from your attorney on about how long the process will take and you might have a bit of extra time to prepare for the first hearing.
The person who files first (“Petitioner”), is the one who will present their side first at trial. However, both sides will get time to tell their story.
Contrary to popular fears, being the Respondent does NOT mean that you won’t get to keep your house, or will have to take less in a settlement or will not do as well at trial. So, do not worry if you were not the first one to file.
We can help
We are experienced with family law and divorce and can help you understand the process, understand all of your options, and plan for your future.
Kalish Law Office – “Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference. Since 1984.”