by Attorney Scott Neinas
By filing first, you ensure that the proceedings commence only when you are in a comfortable financial situation. Ideally, you would have your bills paid, money set aside to hire an attorney and to potentially move to different housing, and you would also have access to all financial accounts.
There’s something to be said for not being caught off guard. In addition to having your finances in order you can prepare all the other important documents that will be necessary for the divorce process. This means property deeds, bank statements, vehicle titles, credit card statements, loan agreements, etc.
By filing first, you ensure that your spouse cannot dispose of marital assets without violating a court order. Along with every divorce summons is an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order. This prevents both you and your spouse from disposing of cash, investments, and other marital
property. It also prevents either of you from canceling or transferring life insurance and titles to property.
Jurisdiction pertains to which state or county hears your divorce case. Venue is the specific courthouse where your matter will be hard. In many cases, one spouse or another has moved during separation, either to a new county or even to a new state or country. By filing first, assuming you meet the jurisdictional requirements, you control where the divorce will be heard, not your spouse.
Peace of Mind
What? This is a divorce, right? Be that as it may, knowing that you are filing gives you a modicum of control. You are no longer left wondering if your spouse will drain the bank account, take the children, and move away before you can do anything about it. There is no more questioning when the divorce will be filed.
Also, filing for divorce is not necessarily set in stone. Should you change your mind, decide to reconcile or just decide to wait longer, you can dismiss your divorce complaint if you were the one who filed first (this assumes that your spouse hasn’t filed a “Response” to your petition and has also filed for divorce, in this situation, both of you would need to agree to dismiss the matter).