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IS IT IMPORTANT TO FILE FOR DIVORCE FIRST?

| August 9, 2017

If you think you may be headed towards divorce court, you might wonder if there’s anything to gain by being the first to file. Does being the plaintiff, rather than the defendant, gives you any advantages when it comes to custody or property division?

While this isn’t always an easy question to answer, there are some reasons that it’s best to go first when you’re filing for divorce:

1. YOUR LEGAL TEAM IS READY TO GO

When the other side hands you court papers, the clock starts ticking. You have a limited amount of time to respond to the complaint. Miss this window and you miss your chance to respond at all. If you haven’t started looking yet, this means you’re at ground zero to find and retain an attorney to represent you. Then, your legal team needs to reply by the deadline. Especially if your case is complex for any reason, it’s a good idea to file first so that you can find the right attorney and so that their work isn’t rushed. If you haven’t chosen an attorney yet, consider divorce attorney Thomas Pyles. He has more than 25 years of experience dealing with these types of cases. Click here to set up a free meeting to learn how he can best help you and your situation.

2. YOU GET TO CHOOSE YOUR ATTORNEY

When a person consults with an attorney, they have an attorney-client relationship even if they don’t end up retaining the attorney. Sometimes, legally savvy clients consult with all of the top divorce attorneys in a city. Then, when their spouse goes to try to find an attorney, all of the best attorneys are unavailable to represent them. Filing first helps prevent this tactic. You’re able to retain the attorney of your choice without a conflict of
interest.

3. YOU CAN COLLECT PAPERWORK

Filing for divorce involves a lot of paperwork. A great deal of effort goes into documenting your assets. You need account statements, insurance records, a copy of your will or trust, records for your children and pretty much every other relevant set of paperwork that’s out there. Waiting for your spouse to file first can make it hard to track this paperwork down. It gives your spouse time to hide paperwork that isn’t helpful to their position. While you can demand these records in discovery, finding them before you file means that your attorney has them faster, and you don’t have to worry about your spouse failing to comply with discovery rules.

4. YOU CAN OBTAIN A FINANCIAL RESTRAINING ORDER

In some states, filing for divorce comes with an automatic financial restraining order. This order prevents either party from dissipating marital assets. With the order in place, each spouse many access only enough funds to pay regular living expenses. If you wait for you partner to file, you run the risk that they might scheme to hide this
property. Until one of you files paperwork and serves the other side, either party can raid joint financial accounts. Your spouse might try to divert funds before they file their complaint. Filing first doesn’t give them this option.

When you’re in a state where a restraining order isn’t automatic, filing first allows you to ask for an order as soon as possible. In most cases, you can ask on the very same day that you file your initial court papers. This can be instrumental to prevent your spouse from trying to hide assets from the court.

5. FILING FIRST LETS YOU PREPARE

Many of the benefits of filing first involve planning for your divorce. When you get divorced, you need a great attorney. You need copies of your financial records, and you need to prevent your spouse from raiding the piggy bank. It’s easier to do these things by filing first than to try to play catch up. Ultimately, finding the right attorney and allowing them to guide you through the process from the beginning can make all the difference and put you on the offensive.

Ready to file for divorce and want help? Use the form below to set up a consultation with Waldorf lawyer Thomas Pyles.