Are There Advantages to Filing for Divorce First?
You might have heard that spouses gain the upper hand in a divorce by being the first to file. But is this really true? And should you be scared if you receive divorce papers from your spouse, who was the first to get the courthouse?
At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, we have tackled many divorces in Media and Delaware County. Although you should not be afraid if your spouse files first, there are some advantages to beating him or her to the punch. Below, we look at some of the most significant.
You Can Prepare Financially for the Divorce
Separating from your spouse can be financially difficult. All of sudden, you need to pay your bills on one income. You might even have more expenses, such as housing costs, if you move out of the house.
Planning a budget and possibly gaining access to credit takes time. If your spouse files first, you might be scrambling so that you do not end up homeless. By contrast, when you file first, you can financially prepare before heading out on your own.
Of course, Pennsylvania does not allow quickie divorces, so most people have lived apart for at least a year before they file for a no-fault divorce. However, you might file for a fault divorce based on adultery, cruelty, or some other ground which has no waiting period. And you want your ducks lined up in a row.
You Give Your Spouse Less Time to Hide Assets
Some spouses hide assets so that they do not have to divide them as part of the divorce. You would be surprised how creative some spouses can be. We have heard of men and women transferring assets into the name of a new boyfriend/girlfriend or hiding assets offshore. If you file first, then you rob your spouse of the time needed to hide those assets from you.
You Can Frame the Divorce for the Judge
The person who files first typically presents evidence to the judge first. This can be critical if you are expecting a contested divorce. For example, if you are contesting child custody, then you can present evidence first that shows how living with you would be in the child’s best interest. You can also “frame” the issue in such a way that you make yourself look good.
If you go first, you can take some of the sting out of negative information about yourself, such as a prior drug or alcohol addiction or previous instances of infidelity. By hearing it from you, the judge will view that you are taking ownership of previous mistakes. You can also share negative information about your spouse before he or she has a chance to respond.
We Can File a Delaware County Divorce for You
At a minimum, filing first often makes people feel in control. It is an affirmative first step to the rest of your life, instead of feeling like you are reacting to someone else’s decision to break up.
To get started, contact the Media family attorneys at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates today to schedule a consultation.