Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First?
If your marriage has come to an end and you are headed for divorce, you may want to know if it matters who files for divorce first. Many divorce attorneys argue that there really is no advantage to filing for dissolution (divorce) first, however, we believe that it depends on your individual circumstances.
There are some advantages to filing first, and they include:
- You get to plan in advance and take your time selecting a lawyer, rather than having to scramble to find a lawyer to meet with you and file a Response within 30 days of being served.
- You have time to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the financial cost of divorce.
- You have the first choice of which court will hear your case. Depending on where you live, having your case heard in one courthouse over another could be a significant advantage. For example, if your spouse moved to another county, he or she could file in that county once they meet the residency requirement.
- You are in control of the timeframes.
- As the petitioner, you get the first argument at trial.
- By initiating the divorce process, you have the opportunity to start protecting community assets.
- It prevents possible stalling by the other party.
One of the most significant advantages to filing for divorce first is you are given adequate opportunity to consult with various attorneys before choosing one. You are basically putting yourself in an offensive position instead of a defensive position.
Ideally, you and your spouse will conduct the process of physically separating and pursing dissolution proceedings in an organized, amicable, planned, and orderly fashion. If you anticipate any conflict about child custody or property division, then the sooner you seek legal counsel, the better prepared you will be to navigate any issues that arise.
Filing for Divorce in Washington
Washington is a "no-fault" divorce state. This means that the only reason you need to file for divorce is "irreconcilable differences." You must live in Washington to file for a divorce there, and the divorce must be filed in the county in which you or your spouse lives.
Once the divorce is finalized, the divorce judgment will determine:
- The date the marriage ends.
- Who will get custody of the children and when the other parent will see them.
- Who will pay child support and how much.
- Who will pay the children's health insurance and medical expenses.
- Who will pay the couple's debts.
- How the couple's property will be divided.
- Whether one spouse will pay spousal support (alimony).
If you are contemplating filing for divorce, you are invited to contact McKinley Irvin to speak with a caring and knowledgeable Washington divorce attorney. Our accomplishments include the AV® Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, selection for inclusion in Super Lawyers®, and "Best Law Firms" by U.S. News & World Report.
Contact our Washington divorce firm to schedule a consultation with a lawyer of your choosing.