Deciding to file for divorce is not easy. You have probably tried every other option available to maintain the relationship alive, most likely because of the children, and you want them to have a steady, familiar home environment. However, if after all options have been exhausted, you still feel that getting a divorce is what is best for everyone involved, you may still be having doubts as to how to proceed before contacting any divorce attorneys. You might have heard different horror stories from friends and acquaintances who have gone through a divorce and want to do things as smoothly and quickly as possible. Would being the first to file a divorce help you accomplish those objectives? Let’s find out.
Not necessarily. If both parties agree on what they want to do, there are no assets to split up and no children; being first gives you no special advantage. In other cases, it does, mainly because:
By taking the initiative, you may be doing yourself a favor by placing yourself first and admitting that you are ready to face the next chapter of your life. This may be a very empowering step. Also, by being first, you will not have to go through the unpleasant surprise of receiving paperwork you must sign without being prepared for it. You will not have to work following someone else’s deadlines. Being first means that you and your lawyer will set the deadlines.
By being the person who files for divorce, you will have the opportunity to be the first to present your case in court. You will tell the judge your side of the story, present all your evidence, and let the judge digest all of this before hearing the other side. Although by no means will this means that your partner will not be heard, it can give you a psychological advantage.
When you are the first to file, you may be able to shorten the time your ex has to hide any assets from the court. This strategy alone may result in a big help to you, particularly if you suspect that your ex may be trying to deprive you from receiving your fair share of your community property. When things between spouses are not friendly, vengeful parties may try to empty bank accounts, dispose of property, or hide cash or other valuable assets when they suspect divorce is inevitable. If you see or suspect any signs that your ex may be doing this, talk to your divorce attorney as soon as possible, before the assets or money are gone forever.
On the other hand, when you are the first to file, you will have the time to put your assets in order to make sure you will be able to support yourself financially once the divorce is done. Remember that you will need to have funds to pay for legal representation, find temporary housing, or absorb any other expenses you may face until the divorce is finalized. Talk to your attorney if you need help at this stage.