Is there an advantage to filing for divorce first? 30 Answers as of June 26, 2013

I think my spouse and I would like to get a divorce. Is there any advantage to filing first?

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The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
Yes, if you file, then you have some more control over how quickly things go in court.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 8/26/2011
Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
In most cases, there is no advantage to who files first, unless one files for temporary orders at the same time as filing.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/24/2011
Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A.
Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A. | John G. Miskey IV
By filing first, you select the Court venue. You can also get the process started sooner rather than waiting for your ex to file and serve you. Courts in family law cases do not give an advantage otherwise to the party listed as Plaintiff. Our firm offers legal consultations (via office/phone/skype) throughout NC for a fee of $75.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 8/24/2011
Glenn E. Tanner
Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
Some but not much.I prefer to file first when it is a litigated case so I get to talk more but the advantage is minimal at best.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/23/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
The number one advantage is that the party who files first gets to go first at trial, if the case makes it that far. The second advantage is that you get to decide when to file, and do not have to sit around wandering or waiting for your spouse to start the process.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/23/2011
    Hugo Florido ESQ.
    Hugo Florido ESQ. | Hugo Florido
    There are no advantages to filing first.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/26/2013
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    The person who files is usually the person who drives the divorce action and has an advantage if this is a contested divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot | Susan Correia Champa
    There is no advantage to filing for divorce first.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    Opinions will vary amongst even experienced attorneys if there is an advantage to being the Petitioner as opposed to the Respondent. My position is that it doesn't make a difference. A case can be advanced just as much as the Respondent who has filed a Counterpetition as the Petitioner. The one reason to file first is that the process has to start somewhere. In the absence of a written separation agreement, debts remain marital and can still be the equal responsibility of both parties. The only way to end this joint responsibility is to enter a written separation agreement or to file for divorce. One side may be less motivated to start the process for fear of having to be completely responsible for their own debts, for fear of a child support obligation and/or an Alimony obligation. If you know your marriage is over, there are very few reasons not to start the process. I suggest you consult an experienced Family Law attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Rhonda R. Werner Schultz, PL
    Rhonda R. Werner Schultz, PL | Rhonda R. Werner Schultz
    Attorneys like to be the first to file a divorce if a trial is anticipated because the petitioning party gets to present their case first to the court.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    With a few limited exceptions, I am not aware of a situation where filing first gives one an advantage.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    The only advantage to filing first is that you would get your choice of courthouses. If your spouse resides in another county, you might wish to file first so that the divorce is venued in your county.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    The Law Offices of Mandy J. McKellar
    The Law Offices of Mandy J. McKellar | Mandy J. McKellar
    Not really if you file first your known as the plaintiff if you answer your known as defendant. You may be able to proceed at trial and put up your case in chief first but that's it really. Also in Nevada your filling fee is a little higher if you file first.Sent from my Windows Phone
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Daniel B. Rubanowitz, APC
    Law Office of Daniel B. Rubanowitz, APC | Daniel B. Rubanowitz
    There are a few advantages to filing first for divorce which include the following: 1) You establish the timing of getting the case started; 2) If you live in an area (i.e., jurisdiction) where more than one Courthouse can hear your case, you can "forum shop" to select the Court if you are the party who files and serves the appropriate documents first; and 3) At the time of trial, the party who files and serves first (i.e., the Petitioner) gets to put on his/her case first and make the last closing argument. Traditionally, lawyers and parties believed that if you were able to put your case on first, then the judicial officer might be persuaded in your favor before the other party even gets started. However, many family law attorneys believe that there is no longer an advantage to going first because the judicial officers hearing cases in Family Court are very well trained and generally do not make decisions until after all of the evidence is presented.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Goldberg Jones
    Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
    No.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/9/2013
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    By filing first, you get orders issued controlling certain management aspects of your property. If you need help on custody support or other issues, you can also file a motion along with the divorce petition.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    Generally speaking, there is no advantage to being the petitioner (the person who files for divorce) or the respondent, with one procedural exception. I.e., if you are the petitioner, and the respondent does not file a response, then as the petitioner, it is easier to proceed to take the respondent's default and finalize your case that way. If on the other hand, you are the respondent, and the petitioner decides to become uncooperative and no longer participate in the divorce process, then you would need to set a court date to finalize the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    As long as both parties are on equal footing in terms of having (or not having) an attorney represent them, there is no significant advantage in filing first. However, if both of you are in agreement on getting a divorce, then I suggest looking into the option of filing a Joint Petition for (Uncontested) Divorce. It's less expensive and time consuming.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    NO. In Colo if both spouses are desirous of divorce, the easiest solution would be to file jointly as co-petitioners.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    If there is a trial you would go first, but your spouse gets the last word. You also have to pay the filing fee and marshal service fees.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Many times, yes. But you can negate that advantage by not hiring a lawyer and filing pro se. File first, with counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    Yes, but only if you wind up in a court trial. Most cases settle out of court, and then there is no advantage in filing first.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/22/2011
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