There may be certain advantages to being the first to file for a divorce. Individuals who feel as though their marriages are dissolving may want to consider what’s at stake when figuring out if they want to stay or if they want to begin the process of filing. In many cases, people may have an inkling that divorce is on the horizon, and it is just a matter of who takes the legal initiative first.
The truth is that there are several benefits to filing first that extend beyond a sense of fleeting satisfaction.
Organizing A Divorce Team In Advance
Getting started with the right team may help people going through a divorce to hit the ground running. A divorce team may include a divorce attorney, financial analyst, therapist and vocational specialist to help manage all the different aspects of the divorce. Getting a notice of divorce may leave one party struggling to get everything together while the other party is planning strategy, and it is important not to get left behind.
Gathering Necessary Documents
Documentation is crucial when it comes to making a case for a particular divorce agreement. Property division will require a documented list of assets, as will alimony and child support stipulations. Some documents may include bank statements, insurance policies, retirement account statements, tax returns, vehicle registrations, real estate records and more. Finding and securing copies of these documents before the divorce begins will go a long way toward ensuring an equitable split. Also, by filing first and getting all the paperwork together, asset fraud may be more easily prevented.
Access to Funds
Once divorce has been filed, every motion of jointly held funds will be liable for scrutiny by the judge or opposing party’s legal team. Furthermore, when planning for a filing, it may be important to save up personal funds and apply for personal credit to get through the split. This is more easily done before filing for divorce than after.
For separated spouses, this is a crucial issue, especially if spouses are separated across state lines. Some divorce laws are friendlier for men or for women, for high-income or low-income spouses, or for any other reason, and it may be worthwhile to study and look into that detail prior to filing for divorce. It may also give time to consult with a lawyer on this aspect of divorce strategy.
Reduce Chances of Dirty Tricks
One common trick in contentious divorces is for one party to meet for quick consultations with all the leading divorce attorneys nearby to effectively “conflict them out” of communication with the other party. In many jurisdictions, quick consultation effectively creates a conflict of interest for the lawyer, preventing service to the other party.
Being the First To Present At Trial
The one who initiates the divorce in the eyes of the law has the right and responsibility to present his or her case first before a judge. There are some major benefits to being first to present, but there are also concerns.
One benefit is the psychological one of being able to go first and present a case. It may provide a sense of courage and forthrightness that presenting second may make it difficult to find. Divorce often brings with it feelings of lack of control, and filing first may help to strengthen a person’s sense that they are in control of the things that affect their lives.
Another reason for filing first is if the other party committed wrongful actions, it will help to frame the entire divorce proceedings. The first to present may be able to set the language and tone of the whole process, which will go a long way toward achieving a favorable outcome.
On the other hand, the party that presents second may have an advantage in that he or she may be able to plan a presentation to specifically counter the points made by the person who filed first.
Spouses sensing trouble in the marriage that they don’t believe can be resolved should begin discussing with a relationship counselor as well as a family law attorney to get a sense of their options. There is a lot of work that may be done before filing for a divorce, and the one who starts doing the work first will often be better positioned to receive a favorable divorce settlement.