Yes–it can matter who files for divorce first. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should lose sleep over it if you didn’t get to the courthouse first. While filing for divorce first does not give you any inherent rights over your spouse, it does allow you more control over the situation from the beginning and could provide some strategic benefits.
One benefit is that if the specific facts of your case warrant it, you could have a choice of which county to file the paperwork in, which could prove advantageous from a travel perspective and potentially in other ways. You also get to choose when to file, which then starts a clock in the process.
If you are the first to file, you have the opportunity to complete your due diligence without the burden of time constraints. Once the lawsuit begins, the court will set dates for hearings, discovery timelines, and deadlines for mediation before trial.
By filing first, you will be in a better position to predict when these dates will happen. When you have a sense of the timeline, you can make certain preparations surrounding financials and how other areas of your life are managed. You can be a step ahead when it comes to scheduling issues, whether that be work-related or other family obligations.
Things to Consider If You File for Divorce First
Even though there are benefits to filing for divorce first, there are also things to consider. If you file for divorce first, it is likely that if the outstanding issues in your case had to be decided at a trial (by the judge), you would be the first to present your case.
This means, you have to start preparing for court way before the other side; the other side gets to hear testimony and your legal theories before they have to present their side. This is a legal strategy that is best discussed with an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney, because there are pros and cons to consider. An attorney can help you understand the possible advantages and disadvantages as they may apply to your situation.
Additionally, while it can be better to file for divorce first, you do not want to rush to file paperwork at the expense of planning. The better prepared you are, the better your chances for negotiating terms to your advantage. It is prudent always to have a solid plan and consider all of your options before rushing to file paperwork.
What Happens When You File for Divorce First?
When you file for divorce first, you have more control over the process going forward. The following sections highlight some of the benefits that come with being ahead of the curve.
You Get First Choice for Professional Help, Including Divorce Attorneys.
If your marriage has deteriorated to the point where you’re considering a divorce, acting first allows you to have first choice of local attorneys. You can choose a divorce lawyer to fight for your rights and the best terms possible. Because an attorney can learn confidential information during a case evaluation, it’s a conflict of interest for an attorney to speak to you if your spouse has already consulted with them.
Divorce can be one of life’s most stressful, emotionally draining experiences. It involves major decisions about your joint assets and debts, about who will stay in the family home, and probably most importantly about child custody arrangements, including visitation and support. Having the right attorney can make all the difference in the outcome.
At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers, our divorce and family law attorneys will be there for you. We will help you navigate all legal hurdles and provide guidance to avoid mistakes that will affect your future and that of your family. We will be at your side, fighting for your rights from the start and throughout the entire divorce process.
Call our New Jersey law firm today at (201) 880-9770, so we can discuss your unique situation, address your questions and concerns, and show you how we can help. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get you in the best possible position before you file for divorce.
You Have Time to Find Additional Support (For You and Your Kids)
Since divorce and its issues can be complicated and stressful, you may choose to hire professionals to support you, such as a therapist for emotional support and financial planners or forensic accountants for financial protection. Starting to plan early allows you first pick of these resources.
If you feel your children may need support, you’ll have time to reflect on their needs and conduct a thorough search for professionals who can help them. You can also consider what time you may need to set aside to give the children your added attention and support. Our attorneys may be able to help you connect with appropriate individuals to help you prepare for your impending divorce and to gather all the documentation you may need.
Planning Helps to Avoid Being Emotionally Compromised
Divorce isn’t pleasant. It is an emotionally charged event most people never want to think about, let alone experience. When people are emotionally compromised, they tend to make rash judgments, which ultimately lead to decisions they later regret.
Those decisions can have profound implications for your divorce. You don’t want to do something your spouse can use against you. Getting help from others early in the process can help keep you level-headed and encourage rational, well-thought-out, logical decisions.
You Have Opportunity to Gather Necessary Documentation
Planning for divorce early not only allows you the opportunity to pick the people who can help you, you also get a head start on finding and copying documents that you will need, such as mortgage statements; bank, brokerage, and retirement account statements; household bills; titles of ownership; and proof of insurance.
As you make these preparations, be sure to have all of your documentation organized and in a secure location. If you have electronic records, or plan to scan hard copy documents, use a computer and storage device that only you can access if possible.
You Can Get Yourself into an Advantageous Financial Position
It can be beneficial to start saving money for the expenses of your divorce or to secure a line of credit to get you through the upcoming months before you formally file and let the cat out of the bag. If you open new credit cards, do so in your own name only. Perhaps more important than planning your financial future is protecting your financial present. This is where legal representation is vital early in the process.
Some spouses may attempt to hide financial assets once they know a divorce is imminent. By speaking with an attorney early in the planning process, you can strategize on ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. While there are legal consequences to hiding assets, some spouses are willing to take the risk to avoid having their assets exposed and divided in some form or fashion. Assets people who are divorcing may seek to hide include investments, small business income, cash, and even physical assets like valuable jewelry and artwork.
Potentially, a more catastrophic scenario would be if your spouse cut you off financially and made it difficult for you to get by on your own. If your spouse has control of all your money, even if it is in a shared account, you could find yourself in a bad spot if your spouse decides to be vindictive. A skilled attorney can help you uncover potential risks you may face and provide ways and options to protect yourself first, so you don’t find yourself in that predicament
Is It Better to File For Divorce First?
Our New Jersey Attorneys Will Advise You Based On Your Individual Situation
Every divorce situation is unique, depending on the specific factors involved. While it is usually more advantageous to file for divorce first than not, our New Jersey divorce attorneys will review the facts of your individual situation to determine your next best step. Sometimes, strategically, you may not want to file first for other reasons.
If you’re asking yourself, “Is it better to file for divorce first?” give us a call and we can guide you through the decision-making process. We will discuss those issues that will impact your divorce, address your questions and concerns, and help make the determination of what next steps are best for you in both the short and long terms.
The team at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers will be there for you to handle all legal hurdles. We will help you get through the divorce process as smoothly as possible. If your situation is complicated, we are strong litigators with a reputation for handling difficult and fact-specific cases. We help clients whose divorces involve business ownership, complex compensation, hidden assets, abuse allegations, and highly charged child custody disputes.
Find out why filing for divorce first could be beneficial to your circumstances. Call us today at (201) 880-9770 to get started.