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Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?


If you and your spouse are considering divorce, one of the questions you may be asking yourself is, “Does it matter who files for divorce first?” Sometimes, spouses may compete to file for divorce first, hoping to gain an advantage. But does it matter who files for divorce first? In other words, can you gain the upper hand by initiating the divorce process? The truth is that there is generally no legal advantage to filing for divorce first. The person who files the divorce papers does not get any special treatment from the court. However, there may be some procedural or strategic advantages to filing for divorce first. You should know that there may also be some drawbacks to being the one who initiates the divorce process. Before deciding to initiate the divorce process, it is crucial that you take time to carefully consider the possible advantages and disadvantages of filing for divorce first.

Possible Advantages of Filing for Filing for Divorce First

As mentioned already, while there are no legal advantages to filing for divorce first, there may be some procedural or strategic advantages of taking the first step. The following are some of the possible advantages of being the one who initiates the divorce process;

  1. You Start the Clock

Once you file the divorce petition, you start the clock. If you are ready to begin the divorce process, filing for divorce means you don’t have to wait for your spouse to be ready. After you file for divorce, the court will give dates and timelines which your spouse must abide by. If you file for divorce and your spouse fails to respond, the divorce case may proceed without your spouse present. If your spouse fails to respond within the designated time frame, the court could grant a default judgment, meaning the divorce could be granted without your spouse’s input.

  1. You Choose Where to File for Divorce

One of the biggest advantages of filing for divorce first is getting to choose the jurisdiction. However, in the U.S., you must meet residency requirements before you can file for divorce in a specific state. In Florida, the residency requirement for divorce is six months. This is outlined under Florida Statute 61.021. One of the main reasons residency requirements exist is to prevent people from trying to file for divorce in a state where the laws are more favorable to their situation.

  1. More Time To Prepare

Spouses who are served with divorce papers are often caught off-guard. By initiating the divorce process, you can ensure you have enough time to gather the necessary documents, prepare your case, and contact a divorce attorney.

  1. The First Chance To Ask for Temporary Orders

When you initiate the divorce process, you can be the first to ask the court for temporary orders before informing your spouse of the initial divorce filing. Examples of temporary orders include orders awarding temporary alimony or child support, limiting what spouses can do with marital assets, and protecting one spouse from the other.

Possible Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First

The following are some of the possible disadvantages of filing for divorce first;

  • You have to pay filing fees
  • Increased pressure and stress
  • You may be considered aggressive
  • Potential for hostility from your spouse

Contact an Orlando Divorce Lawyer

Contact our qualified Orlando divorce lawyers at the Arwani Law Firm if you need legal guidance.

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At the Arwani Law Firm, our Orlando divorce lawyers will work together to get you the best possible outcome in your case, while treating you with the utmost respect and compassion. When you meet with us, you’ll see we love what we do, and you’ll feel that enthusiasm as we work through your legal matter.

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