Even though your relationship has reached its end, you may be dragging your feet about being the first to file for divorce. You may have heard divorce horror stories from family or friends and are sitting on the fence, thinking that you should just wait for your partner to get the ball rolling. Maybe you think it’ll be easier if the paperwork is started by your partner first. Or maybe you’re just scared about the future.
For most divorces, there is little advantage to being the first to file, especially if you and your spouse both agree that the split is for the best. But if it could turn messy, there are a few advantages that make filing first worth thinking about.
Filing First Means Being Mentally and Financially Prepared
One of the big advantages to filing first is simply this: by taking the initiative, you are taking control of your life. It signals that you’re ready to move on, and you’re not going to wait around for your ex to make the first move. If your relationship has been a poor or abusive situation for you or the kids, it can be truly empowering to take the first step.
Filing first also means that you won’t be surprised or caught off guard by your spouse handing you the paperwork. You will have the time you need to think about your long-term legal strategy for the divorce process because you won’t need to scramble to meet a deadline to respond. You will also give yourself extra time to plan for any of the major life changes that a divorce can cause.
You Get to Speak First in Court
When you file for divorce first, you will be the first to present your case before the court. This means that the judge will get to hear you speak, listen to your side of the story, and look at any evidence you have before it’s your partner’s turn. Although the court will treat both parties equally in the eyes of the law, some people feel that this can help their case, as going first can be a confidence booster.
It May Mean a Financial Advantage
By being the first to file, you may be able to shorten the time that your ex has to try and hide any assets from the court. This can be a big help if you think he might try to deprive you of your fair share of community property. Vengeful spouses can sometimes try and drain joint bank accounts, sell property, or disappear with cash or other assets if they believe a divorce is coming. Make sure that you know the warning signs that your spouse may be hiding something from you, and speak to your attorney about it as soon as possible.
Being the first to file also means that you’ll have the time to put aside assets of your own in a legal, safe manner that ensures you’ll be able to support yourself adequately, pay for legal counsel, and cover any other expenses that may arise until the divorce is finalized.
Get Legal Help for Your Divorce
The biggest advantage of filing first may be that you’ll be able to take the time you need to find the right legal team to help you through your divorce. Your attorney will be your legal guide and support throughout the entire divorce process, so it’s worth spending a little time shopping around. Don’t be afraid to speak to more than one attorney or firm, and ask plenty of questions to make sure your lawyer will be a good fit for you and your situation.
The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny serves clients of all kinds for their divorce and other family law needs. When you’re ready to talk to an experienced legal professional about your family situation, we would be honored to serve you. Please call us to arrange a consultation in our Bellevue office.