Does it matter who files for divorce first?
In this article, we’re going to talk about:
- does it matter who files for divorce first
- what happens after you file for divorce
- disadvantages of filing for divorce first
- benefits of filing for divorce first
If you want to know who should file for divorce first, keep reading.
Table of Contents
- Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?
- Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First
- Benefits of Filing for Divorce First
- Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce At All?
Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?
Determining ‘does it matter who files for divorce first,’ depends.
Classic divorce lawyer response, I know.
So, who should file for divorce first?
Who Should File for Divorce First?
Who should file for divorce first depends on several things.
Since you’re reading this, ask yourself if your spouse:
- is going to (or has) move away
- is going to manipulate the finances any
- could move the kids
- is likely to lie during the divorce trial
If your spouse is likely to cause any of these issues, you should file for divorce first.
Below, I go over how to handle these scenarios.
Should I File for Divorce First?
Are you still wondering, “Should I file for divorce first?”
The biggest reasons to file for divorce first (other than the reasons above) are:
- to find a good divorce attorney
- prepare yourself financially
Again, these topics are covered more in-depth below.
But in short, you should file for divorce first if you need time:
- to build savings
- find a new job
- build an emergency fund
- get an apartment
- take classes for a new job
Now that you have a brief overview of does it matter who files for divorce first, let’s look at the:
Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First
Truthfully, there are not that many disadvantages of filing for divorce first.
The biggest disadvantages of filing for divorce first pertain to money and strategy.
- You pay for filing for divorce
- It’s harder to negotiate
You Pay for Filing for Divorce First
When you file for divorce first, you have to pay for the filing fees.
Your divorce lawyer will be filing a Petition for Divorce.
The local Superior Courts will charge you about $225 to file for divorce first.
(If your spouse files for divorce first, they would have to pay the filing fees.)
While it’s not a huge expense, it does make the cost of divorce a little higher for you.
Along with the costs of filing for divorce, you have to pay to serve your spouse.
Serving divorce papers usually costs about $100.
So, your total extra costs of filing for divorce first are roughly $350.
It’s Harder to Negotiate When You File for Divorce First
In any negotiation, the person who gives the price first is the loser.
It’s no different in divorce negotiations.
When you file for divorce first, you have to include what you want in your divorce petition.
This includes things like your requests for:
Along with these issues, you should include your desired temporary orders.
Temporary orders determine what your life looks like between filing for divorce and when it’s final.
For example, if you and your spouse have gone through legal separation and have moved into separate homes, who gets custody?
Temporary divorce orders will lay out a temporary child custody schedule.
But back to the negotiations.
When you file for divorce first, you may be asking for too much or too little.
Maybe your spouse was willing to walk away from the house when you asked to sell it and split the profits.
Some states split everything 50/50.
Other states base it on what is “fair.”
We recommend that you write down the top three things you REALLY want.
And discuss these priorities with your divorce attorney as the things you’d like to focus on.
When you create a top three list, you know what to fight for and what to let your spouse have.
This means that you’re more likely to get what you want.
So, those are the only potential disadvantages of filing for divorce first.
Let’s chat about the benefits of filing for divorce first.
Benefits of Filing for Divorce First
When it comes to who files for divorce first, there are numerous benefits of filing for divorce first.
The most notable benefits of filing for divorce first are:
- Chose the jurisdiction
- Filing a Standing Order
- Filing a Status Quo Order
- Present your case first
- Be financially prepared for divorce
- Consulting divorce lawyers first
Chose the Jurisdiction When You File for Divorce First
Who files for divorce first determines where the divorce will take place.
For example, let’s say that your spouse moved to another county or state.
If you meet residency for your state and you file for divorce first, the divorce will take place in your county.
Let’s say your husband has moved and your husband filed for divorce first.
In this case, you’d have to travel to his county for divorce hearings.
And vice versa if your wife filed for divorce first.
Filing for divorce first can save you tons of money on:
- travel expenses
- lawyer fees (paying them to travel)
- lost PTO at work
In this case, the answer for “Does it matter who files for divorce first,” is a hard “Yes.”
Filing a Standing Order
Whoever files for divorce first can file a Standing Order.
A Standing Order gets filed with the Petition for Divorce. Standing Orders prevents BOTH spouses from:
- changing beneficiaries (life insurance, 401k, etc.)
- borrowing against property
- transferring property to other people or entities
- selling property
- changing bank accounts
- moving money to other accounts
Standing Orders are a good hedge against people who might try to hide assets.
Filing a Status Quo Order
What is a Status Quo Order?
Status Quo Orders are designed to keep a child’s life from being disrupted during a divorce.
It keeps one parent from moving the child to a new home during the divorce.
A Status Quo Order is kept in place until a parenting plan gets finalized.
The parent who files for divorce first can also file a Status Quo Order.
This will keep the children:
- in the same home
- in the same school
- in the same church
For example, let’s say that the wife filed for divorce first.
She can file a Status Quo Order as well.
When the father moves out and gets his own place during the divorce, the kids stay in the house with the mother.
This keeps the divorce from disrupting the children’s’ lives.
Present Your Case First
“Should I file for divorce first?”
If you want to present your case first, then you should file for divorce first.
The person who files for divorce first gets to present their case first.
When your spouse is going to lie about anything, you’ll want to present first.
As the Petitioner, you can call witnesses to trial.
You can also determine what order you call them in.
So, if you think your spouse is going to do anything to bend the truth, call them first.
They will be forced to commit to their testimony before they hear the other witnesses testify.
This means that they cannot change their testimony later on.
No matter what evidence gets presented or what the witnesses say, they have already testified.
In a scenario like this, it matters who files for divorce first.
Financially Prepare When Filing for Divorce First
Sometimes when people file for divorce, the other spouse:
- freezes accounts
- closes accounts
- transfers money
When you file for divorce first, you have time to get financially situated.
You can look at everything you own and owe.
Make a list of:
- all assets (what they are and how much equity)
- all debts (total and monthly amounts)
- monthly expenses (use bank and credit card statements)
When you’re looking at your assets, make a list of all:
- 401k amounts
- bank accounts
If you’re uncertain about financial stability after the divorce, you have time to prepare.
You should have time to:
- build your credit
- pay off debts
- build an emergency fund
- save up for a down payment (or first month’s rent)
- find a new job (if needed)
- take courses to get a job (if needed)
- sell possessions that you don’t need
Let’s say that my husband filed for divorce without telling me.
I wouldn’t have time to prepare AT ALL.
I have 20 days to get a divorce attorney and gather my thoughts before I respond to the divorce petition.
Again, in this case, it definitely does matter who files for divorce first.
You want to have a solid financial foundation when you get divorced.
Consulting Divorce Attorneys First
This definitely makes a difference on whether does it matter who files for divorce first.
Let’s say your husband filed for divorce without telling you.
Let’s also assume that he pulled out a list of all the divorce attorneys near me that have the best reviews.
He called up every single top-rated divorce lawyer and had a free divorce consultation with them.
When one spouse has a consultation with a law firm, that law firm CANNOT work with the other spouse.
This is even if your husband didn’t hire them.
We have seen spouses interview all the best divorce lawyers in town so that their spouses cannot use them.
This leaves you with only the crappy divorce lawyers left over that you can hire.
It’s not a good situation to be in.
So, in this scenario, it definitely matters who files for divorce first.
Who files for divorce first has ample time to find the best divorce lawyer in town.
But after you file for divorce, your spouse only has 20 days to hire a divorce lawyer.
If you have interviewed all the top divorce attorneys in town, they will be struggling to find a halfway decent lawyer.
Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce At All?
It does matter who files for divorce.
The person who files for divorce is going to be more prepared than the other person.
They have time to prepare, collect their thoughts, and find a divorce attorney.
And when someone files for divorce, the courts will no longer allow you to:
- make major purchases
- cancel or change any insurance
- dispose of property
My Husband Filed for Divorce First
If your husband filed for divorce first, the first thing you want to do is start vetting divorce lawyers.
Find the best divorce lawyers by going on Google and looking at reviews.
After you have found a divorce lawyer, submit your response to the Petition for Divorce.
Your response should let the courts know whether you agree or disagree with your spouse’s proposed:
- child custody
- child support
- division of assets
- division of debts
If you don’t response within the required time frame, the courts will default to your husband’s wishes.
My Wife Filed for Divorce First
If your wife filed for divorce first, there are some extra things to consider.
- Do you all have kids?
- Did she file for divorce as a stay at home mom?
If your wife filed for divorce first, she can include:
- a Status Quo Order
- a Petition for Temporary Orders
As mentioned above, the Status Quo Order keeps the child from being able to move.
Meaning, if you go get a new place, the kids will stay at the house with your wife.
And if she filed for divorce with Temporary Orders, she could be asking for:
- child support
- child custody
If she’s been a stay at home mom, she’s more likely to be granted these.
This will help your wife get on her feet financially while the divorce is finalizing.
Over To You
If you’d like to get a free divorce consultation, just fill out the form below.
Our consultations are no-obligation, free, and only 30 minutes long.
We just hop on a call and see how we can help you out.