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Factors in Considering Whether to File For Divorce First

Oftentimes, before a divorce is even mentioned by one of the spouses, spouses have at least some idea that divorce is a possibility.  Usually, a spouse can sense that the end of their marriage may be coming.  Quite frequently, if this is the case, each is already privately considering ending the relationship legally.

If this is the position you in, you may have wondered if you should file for divorce first.  The answer to this question is not simple.  These are factors you might want to consider:

Preparation of divorce team.

Putting together your team of divorce experts will help achieve the best outcome for you.  This includes an excellent attorney, and potentially a divorce financial analyst if there are substantial assets.  You might also want a good therapist to help deal with the stresses of divorce.  If you plan to enter the job market, a vocational expert might be desired.  All of this can take time, so if you are seriously considering divorce, you may want to start assembling your group of experts to help you.

Collection of documentation.

It is crucial for you to have all relevant legal and financial documents in your secure possession.  A list of these may include:  tax returns, bank statements, brokerage statements, insurance policies, wills, trusts, reals estate records, retirement accounts, vehicle registrations, etc.  It may take time to locate and copy all these documents, especially if your spouse is controlling the finances or is secretive about them.

If you file for divorce first, it will mean that you will be prepared with all your documentation in a secure location and organized before the divorce papers are served.

Access to funds and credit before filing.

As soon as you realize divorce is down the road, setting aside money for the the expenses involved is important. You need to have enough money to hire your divorce team. It is an investment in your financial future. You should make sure that you have a credit card in your own name because if you don’t’, it may be hard to get one later.

Filing first may prevent assets being hidden by your spouse.

Many spouses hide assets when going through the divorce process.  If you file first, especially in a state that requires an automatic temporary restraining order, it may help prevent such underhanded tactics.

 Legal Advantages of Filing First

a. You can choose where your divorce will be adjudicated.

Generally, divorces are decided in the jurisdiction they’re filed in. If you and your husband are already separated and living in different areas, it would be advantageous to check into the legal implications of where to file.  Sate laws vary widely regarding child custody customs, division of marital assets, whether a temporary financial restraining order is required, etc.  It is in your benefit to do research and consult with attorneys wherever you decide to file.

b. Filing first may thwart your spouse’s “conflicting you” out

If your spouse contacts all the best divorce attorney’s in your area first, you may have a hard time finding a local attorney.  Having spoken to all the best attorneys before you, the attorneys may have to tell you they can’t represent you because they have a conflict since they already spoke to your spouse.

c.  Filing first may allow you to present your case first at trial.

Consulting an expert divorce attorney can give you insight into whether you may want to present your case first at trial. Your attorney can give you legal advice regarding the advantages and disadvantages of issues.

Although financial considerations are very important in starting a new life as a single person, divorce can often be a heart wrenching and emotionally charged event in one’s life.  However, once having made the decision, being the first to make the initial legal filing may provide a psychological advantage that may let you feel more in control to gain the best advantage you can.


Securing a solid financial future is important, and finding that right expert divorce team is a must. They can also advise you if you should file for divorce first.

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