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Does it Matter who Files First?

Does it Matter who Files for Divorce First?

The answer, like so many in the law, is maybe. Each person’s case is unique and you must take your own specific situation into consideration before determining whether or not it would meaningfully affect your case to file first. There are times when you want to file first and other times that it is better to wait. Although there is no right or wrong for who files first, there can be advantages and disadvantages. The court and judge look at both party’s information equally. However, it can make a difference if you file first. Below we have included certain tactical advantages and disadvantages to consider before being the first to file for divorce.

advantages and disadvantages of filing first

Have a Say in Divorce Proceedings

The spouse who files first may have the chance to decide when court dates are established. If a couple spends equal time in two different states, the petitioner may also decide under which jurisdiction the divorce takes place. 

Protection Against Your Spouse Moving Assets

When you wait before initiating divorce proceedings, your spouse may use the time to liquidate bank accounts and transfer assets in order to hide them from you. Filing first for a divorce may catch your spouse off guard.

Once a divorce is filed, Georgia law prohibits either spouse from transferring assets, including removing money from existing bank accounts, without first obtaining a court order to do so. An exception exists that allows the use of funds to pay already existing debts.

Properly Prepare for the Divorce

If you are the first to initiate a divorce, you will most likely have time beforehand to obtain the proper legal representation, as well as the appropriate documents and papers. It can also stop your spouse from hiding money or assets before the break up.

May Be the First to Present Your Case  

In some instances, the court will look at the papers that were filed first. This gives you the opportunity to highlight your side of the story before your ex. In trials and hearing, you can also have the chance to present first.

 Immediate Relief

If you are involved in an unstable relationship, where your spouse has moved out and is not helping with the bills or refuses to let you see the children, filing for divorce can offer quicker relief. Divorce files can help decide matters of money and child custody.

You Alert Your Spouse to Your Demands

When you petition for a divorce, you usually have to list your desires or demands. The other party sees this at the time they are served. This allows them to know exactly what you want and come up with a counterattack.

Sometimes Pay More Fees

The individual who petitions for a divorce first might have to pay the filing fees. Because you go first, you may also have to pay more in attorney fees if your lawyer is busy gathering information. 

Set Forth the Dissolution of Marriage   

If you and your spouse are discussing divorce, you make it solid by filing for it. Usually in these cases, there is little chance of reconciling, since one party has already made the move.