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Our Toms River Divorce Lawyers at Zeigler Law Group, LLC Help Clients with the Process of Filing for Divorce

Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

One of the most common questions people have about the divorce process is whether it makes a difference if you or your spouse files for divorce first. While there are more advantages than disadvantages to filing for divorce first, the New Jersey Family Courts do not provide a legal advantage for the spouse who files for divorce first. Accepting that your marriage is over can be a painful process and one that you do not want to rush. However, you may benefit personally by being the one who initiates the divorce process.

What Are the Benefits of Filing for Divorce First?

There are more benefits to being the one who files for divorce first. However, they are mostly personal since the court does not make legal decisions regarding custody, spousal support, or the division of marital property based on who filed first. The following are examples of some of the advantages of filing first:

  • You have more control over the timing of the divorce. If you are the one who files for divorce, you determine when the process begins, how and when your spouse is served with divorce papers, and that your children are not present when the papers are served.   
  • You have more time to prepare. If you initiate the divorce process, you will have more time to prepare for the divorce, including collecting evidence, financial records, and any other documents you may need to negotiate the best possible settlement outcome. This will be an essential process, particularly if you seek custody of the children. 
  • You can protect your assets. By filing first, you have the advantage of checking all of your financial accounts and physical assets to ensure that your spouse does not take steps to try to hide assets, which can happen, particularly in high-asset divorces. This also allows you to thoroughly review your assets and debts and determine how you want your marital property to be divided.
  • You can obtain legal representation first. This allows you to discuss the details of your divorce before you even file, addressing any questions or concerns about the divorce process and ensuring that everything is done correctly and that your legal rights are always protected. Once your spouse is served with the divorce papers, they must act quickly to hire a divorce lawyer.
  • You have the opportunity to hire experts. If you have complex issues that need to be resolved, including complicated custody matters, or you are going through a high-asset divorce, it may become necessary to hire various experts who can help negotiate particularly complex matters. For example, depending on the circumstances of your divorce, it may be in your best interest to hire a financial planner, a forensic accountant, or a child psychologist.
  • You can choose the location. One of the most significant benefits of filing for divorce first is that you can choose the jurisdiction where your divorce is filed. Issues like custody, child support, and alimony are handled differently based on the jurisdiction where they are settled. If you and your spouse are filing a no-fault divorce, you can file in the county where you live. However, if you are citing specific grounds like adultery or addiction, you must file in the county where the ground occurred. That means that if your spouse committed adultery and you moved to a different county, you will still need to file for divorce in the county where the adultery occurred. A no-fault divorce is much less complicated and time-consuming, and you can file in your county. This may motivate you to file for divorce before your spouse.
  • You may ask for temporary orders. Temporary orders allow you to request things like a custody and placement schedule. The court will also see your documents and statements before your spouse’s, which may positively impact the outcome of your settlement.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Filing First?

While it is generally in your best interest to be the one who files for divorce first, there are a few disadvantages that you should be aware of if you are considering filing for divorce, including:

  • Your spouse knows your demands. By filing first, you are putting all of your cards on the table, allowing your spouse to prepare a defense. However, if you have hired a divorce lawyer, they will be prepared to respond to your spouse’s demands, protect your legal rights, and negotiate a fair settlement.
  • There may be a slight difference in fees. Another thing to remember is that while you and your spouse will have to pay a fee to initiate the divorce process, the fees are slightly higher for the petitioner or the one who files for divorce. The exact amount of the fees will vary based on the county where the divorce is filed.

Whether you are the one who initiates the divorce or you are served with divorce papers by your spouse, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced divorce lawyer.

Our Toms River Divorce Lawyers at Zeigler Law Group, LLC Help Clients with the Process of Filing for Divorce

If you are considering filing for divorce and wondering if it is in your best interest to file first, contact our Toms River divorce lawyers at Zeigler Law Group, LLC. We will help you navigate every step of the divorce process. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 732-361-4827 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Toms River, Red Bank, Princeton, and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, where we serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, and Burlington County.

Contact Zeigler Law Group, LLC
Today To Get Started

Sonya K, Zeigler, Esq. and her team have a well-earned reputation for committed and fierce legal representation. Our firm is here to provide you with the best possible guidance. Call Zeigler Law Group, LLC, at 732-361-4827 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Tom’s River, Red Bank, Princeton, and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.

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