Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

When your marriage experiences turmoil, you may hesitate to file for divorce, doing everything you can to keep the relationship together. However, this strategy may put you at a disadvantage. Here, we’ll discuss divorce filing considerations, including if it matters who files for divorce first.

Advantages of Filing for Divorce First

When clients ask us “Does it matter who files for divorce first?” We tell them there are a few advantages to filing divorce paperwork first, though the degree to which they impact your case will depend on your unique circumstances.

 Divorce First?

Court Convenience

By filing first, you can choose, to some degree, the county or state where your divorce hearings take place. New York law (and that of most other states) requires that you meet residency requirements to file in state courts. But if you and your spouse live in different places, there may be multiple possible counties or even states where you could file. In an already stressful situation, minimizing your travel time can help make the divorce process smoother.

Divorce Timeline

When you file for divorce first, you have time to get your paperwork, housing, and financials together. You’ll also have room to process things emotionally. If your spouse files first, you may be caught off guard and stressed by meeting court deadlines.

Court Order of Appearance

The person to file for divorce first usually presents their case first in court. This may give you an advantage with the judge, and it will likely help you emotionally. You can share your side of the story before you’re rattled by your spouse’s version of events.

Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First

Filing for divorce first does have some downsides. For one, you carry the emotional weight of ending the marriage. You also give your spouse earlier notification of your demands. In your divorce filings, you list your demands, and serve your spouse with this paperwork. This early notification of your demands gives your spouse more time to develop an effective argument to counter your requests. You may also have to pay more filing fees.

Plan for Divorce

When should you get a divorce? Only you can answer that, but there are things you can do to protect yourself while you consider the state of your marriage. Regardless of whether you decide to file for divorce first, if your marriage is in trouble; you should plan for the possibility. Planning for divorce before you’re served with papers allows you to gather documents, make financial decisions, and find a skilled attorney. Though divorce is never stress-free, planning and considering whether to file first can minimize your stress and potentially lead to a better financial outcome.

Contact a Skilled New York Divorce Attorney

This stressful experience can be emotionally and financially draining, so you must contact an experienced family attorney to protect your interests. At Stepanian Law Firm, we work tirelessly to help clients through even the most complex divorces. We treat our clients like family, staying in close communication with you throughout the legal process and working to resolve your case quickly.

If you’re wondering, Should I file for divorce first? contact our law firm for a free consultation. We’ll listen to you with compassion and share our honest legal opinion on your situation. Then, we’ll walk beside you and advocate for your best interests throughout the divorce proceedings.


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