Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First?
When a marriage hits a dead end, divorce might be the most overwhelming but only option toward a happier future. The next logical question that comes to the mind is, “Does it matter who files the divorce first?” Should I do it myself or wait for my spouse to take the process further? Are there any strategic advantages if I am the primary applicant in my divorce proceedings?
If you have these questions in mind, you are not alone. 90% of the couples who head for divorce have their concerns while filing the case. It is absolutely OK. After all, divorce is an expensive and emotionally draining process that can go on for months altogether. You may have to reveal many of your marital secrets to strangers, and it could get very exhausting if you are a private person.
Therefore, making a well-thought move is extremely important.
So, is there any advantage if you choose to file your divorce first?
When filing for a divorce in Texas, it does not matter who’s the petitioner and the respondent.
In Texas, the judge fairly considers both the parties and gives his ruling based on the facts and evidence, and not just on your petition.
However, even though the proceedings are treated equally, there are some strategic advantages of filing your divorce first.
In this blog, we’ll take you through all the advantages and disadvantages that you may have when you choose to file your divorce first in Texas. Read through them to evaluate your option and make a calculative move as per your individualized needs and circumstances.
The Advantages of Filing for Divorce First
Being a petitioner (one who files for the divorce first) definitely gives you an upper hand in all the subsequent proceedings. It helps you to:
Set the Tone of Your Divorce
Being a petitioner allows you to file for divorce on your terms. Whether you are seeking a divorce due to an incompatibility, infidelity, domestic violence, or any other pretext, when filing first, you get to choose your grounds.
You also get to decide the type of divorce you want to file – a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, or separation through amicable negotiations and mediation. While the divorce type depends on how amicable your terms are with your partner, you still have the option to set the tone of your divorce as per your needs.
Also, you must remember that your divorce petition will prove to be the first-hand information that the court gets about a relationship that’s ending. So, if you choose to bring your divorce to the table, you definitely get to set the ground for all future proceedings.
Choose the County for Your Divorce Proceedings
When you separate from your spouse, chances are that you both might be residing in different counties of Texas. Being the primary applicant allows you to bring your divorce proceedings to the county you currently call your home. It will make the entire divorce process a lot easier for you as you can avoid traveling to another county to attend courtroom proceedings, saving both your time and money.
You also have the option to file the divorce in your spouse’s county if it offers some strategic advantage in your divorce proceedings.
Better Prepare with Your Attorney
When filing first, you have more time to gather all the records and information that you may need during your divorce proceedings. The documents you may need include your financial statements, property documents, communication records, insurance proofs, and more.
When filing first, you get more time to prepare your case with your attorney and chalk out a plan that will work best in your situation.
Go First for Trials and Hearings
If you file the divorce first, the court hearings start with you, and you get a chance to present your side of the story first. You get to frame the arguments and make your spouse respond to your charges. Filing first also helps if litigation in divorce is expected.
Request Timing and Relief
In divorce proceedings, temporary orders are pretty common. Provided by the judge, these temporary orders help to settle a lot of impeding issues temporarily, till the final verdict is received.
These orders can be regarding the possession of the marital residence, spousal support, the responsibility of bills and mortgages, custody of the children, child support, and a lot more.
By choosing to file for divorce first, you get an upper hand in Temporary Order Hearings as you and your attorney will have more time to prepare for hearings than your spouse. For example, you can submit a petition that prevents your spouse from liquidating assets, making monetary business decisions, transferring property, or taking your children out of the state.
Prepare Yourself Both Emotionally and Financially
Fling first gives you ample of time to prepare yourself – both emotionally and financially. You get the time to overcome and recover from the emotional turmoil that divorce brings along and find the additional support you need during your court proceedings. Whether it is arranging for child care, adjusting the work schedules, or gaining financial support, you can manage all the impeding tasks easily if you decide to file your divorce first.
Disadvantages of Filing First
While you get to enjoy a number of benefits if you choose to be a petitioner in your divorce case, there are some potential disadvantages of filing your divorce first in Texas too. These include:
You Have to Pay the Initial Filing Fee
If you choose to file the divorce first, you would have to pay the initial filing fee. In Texas, the initial filing fee is between $300 and $400. Your spouse, however, would have to file their response, the fee for which is only a few dollars ($40).
So, if you choose to be the petitioner in your divorce case, be prepared to shell more money out of your pocket.
You Have to List All Your Demands Right at the Beginning of the Case
When you file a petition for your divorce, you are required to list all your desires or demands. Your spouse exactly knows what are your demands, and it gives him/ her a chance to better prepare for a counterattack.
Tips That can Help You Successfully File Your Divorce in Texas
If you’ve decided to take that first step, it is important to prepare yourself well before you go ahead with submitting your divorce petition. Here are some tips that can help you stay prepared and confident:
- Have an Experienced Attorney by Your Side
Whether it’s your first time or whether you’ve been in a tight spot previously as well, it is obvious that you might not be familiar with all the rules of Texas Family Court. Having an experienced attorney by your side can help you navigate the complexities of Texas family law quickly and easily. With complete knowledge of the divorce process, your attorney can help you make the most calculative move, not just in the beginning but throughout your divorce proceedings.
- Give Due Attention to the Preparation Process
No two divorces are the same. The circumstances are different and so are the obligations that need to be fulfilled to put an end to a marital union. Thus, it is important to list out your reasons and circumstances and build a strong foundation for your divorce proceedings.
Spend time with your attorney to help him best understand your case and find the best way to take things forward. Make sure both you and your attorney have an absolute understanding of your assets, liabilities, and funds. It will help you avoid any surprise elements later.
- Get All the Documents Together
To speed up your divorce proceedings, it is important to get all your documents together even before you file for your divorce. This includes your tax returns, pay stubs, retirement fund statements, insurance policy documents, childcare receipts, and more. The discovery process is little inconvenient but important for the successful closure of your case.
- Make Your Final Call
Give your divorce one more thought. Are your reasons for divorce irreconcilable? Can a mediator help resolve the dispute? Do you wish to get separated and not divorced? Sometimes separation is better than divorce. So, give your marriage a deep thought and choose your way forward.
If you wish to go through the separation trial, speak with your attorney and ask him to make all the arrangements for that.
- File Your Divorce
Once you have done the final introspection and have chosen divorce to be the last resort, fill the form and file for divorce. Your attorney will guide you through the intricacies of the process. If there are some pressing issues, you could request an early hearing. Remember, family courts in Texas are quite busy, and it may take a little while to get into the court for a regular hearing.
If you are going for an uncontested divorce, you may also ask for an early hearing. However, you may get a hearing date that’s 60 days from filing your divorce. That’s the minimum time for divorce in Texas.
- Send Your Spouse a Legal Notice
Once you have filled your divorce, it’s time to send your spouse a legal notice so that he/she can respond to your petition. Your attorney will make all the arrangements and will provide you with all the legal assistance that you may require if your spouse claims ignorance to divorce.
- Attend the Proceedings
How you and your spouse agree on divorce terms will decide the route and state of your divorce. If you and your spouse agree on all the terms, your lawyer may file for an uncontested divorce. If you don’t, you may try mediation through a third party. But if a consensus is not reached, you would have to go through a contested divorce, and the timelines of it will be decided by the court.
- Finalizing the Divorce
Once all the issues regarding assets, liabilities, child custody, visitation and support are resolved, the court will give its final verdict on the dissolution of your marriage. You will receive a final decree, which you would submit to the clerk to receive your divorce certificate.
Should You File for Divorce First?
Well, it completely depends on your situation and circumstances. Making the first move definitely has a lot of advantages and gives you ample time to prepare your case. You get a chance to argue your case, rather than responding to the charges.
So, if your differences are irreconcilable and divorce is the only way out, act fast. Make that first move. Delaying the process would only give your spouse the chance and time to file for a divorce, putting you at some disadvantage. Connect with an experienced divorce attorney and build a solid foundation for your case.
What Do I Do If My Spouse Has Filed the Divorce First?
If your spouse has already filed for divorce, do not panic. Filing first might have given you an edge in the process. The court will evaluate the case fairly and will give you a chance to present and argue your side of the case. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you prepare well.
Reach Out to the Law Office of The Vendt Law Firm for Expert Help
Whether you are filing the divorce first or are responding to your spouse’s application, having an experienced Texas Divorce lawyer by your side is extremely important. He can help you navigate the court system with absolute ease.
At The Vendt Law Firm, P.L.L.C., we have skilled divorce attorneys who can provide you with all the legal help and advice you need throughout your divorce process. With extensive knowledge of Texas Family Law, our Richmond County lawyers can provide you with crisp, clear, and practical legal guidance for all matters related to your divorce proceedings.
Connect with our experts to explore your options and find the best route possible.