Should You File For Divorce First?

Does it feel like your marriage is heading for a divorce and that it's a mutual decision? If so, know that the process must start with someone filing for divorce first. The person that files the paperwork is considered the petitioner in the divorce, and there are a few things you need to know about the pros and cons of being the petitioner. This can help you decide if you should wait it out and have your spouse be the first to file.

Pros Of Filing First 

The main advantage of being the petitioner is that you get to control the timing of the divorce process. You're not waiting around not knowing when it will happen, and you know for sure that you've gotten the ball rolling with the initial steps. You may find some anxiety has been lifted due to knowing that the process is starting. 

Filing first also gives you the advantage that you can start planning for the divorce before your spouse. It may take time to find a place to live or arrange where the children will be located, and you can get started on that before the paperwork is received by your spouse.

The petitioner also gets to pick the jurisdiction of the divorce, which may not seem like it means much in some parts of the country, but it does in others. There are some jurisdictions that may be more advantageous to you due to how judges are known to rule in divorce cases. 

Cons Of Filing First

Be aware that there are some initial filing fees that you will pay as part of filing first. This includes your lawyer's fees to draft up the divorce petition paperwork, which your spouse does not have to do. There are also court costs with filing those documents, and the cost of serving the paperwork. It's possible that these costs need to come out of your individual savings account due to already separating the money.

Being the petitioner can also cause hostility, even if you and your spouse are both in serious talks about divorce. You may find that your spouse is more contentious during a divorce due to you filing first, when they may be more calm if they decide to end the marriage themselves. Your spouse will also be able to see the divorce petition and respond to it accordingly.  

Reach out to a family lawyer if you have questions about if you should file for divorce first.