Filing for Divorce First: Pros and Cons

Embarking on the path of divorce is a decision fraught with emotional and practical complexities. If you’re considering this significant step, you might be wondering about the implications of filing for divorce first. While it’s a process that can feel overwhelming, understanding the pros and cons of taking the initial legal step is crucial. As experienced family law attorneys in Arizona, we can guide you through these considerations, ensuring you’re equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions for your future.

Understanding the Basics of Filing for Divorce

Filing for divorce first in Arizona involves submitting a petition for dissolution of marriage to the court, effectively initiating the legal process. This step sets the stage for all subsequent legal proceedings, including negotiations and court hearings. It’s important to understand that being the first to file does not inherently grant one an advantage in the outcome of the divorce, but it does start the legal timeline and processes. Clarifying this common misconception can help in making a more informed decision about whether or not to be the one to file first.

Advantages of Filing First

  • Control Over Timing: Filing first for divorce allows you to choose the timing that works best for you, both emotionally and financially. This control can provide a crucial period for gathering necessary documents and resources, ensuring you’re fully prepared for the legal process ahead. In addition, if you file first and your spouse doesn’t respond within the given timeframe, your divorce will likely be granted by default. In such a case, the divorce judgment will follow your initial petition, which means you will be granted what you requested in the petition.
  • Choice of Jurisdiction: By filing first, you can determine the jurisdiction and venue where the case will be heard, which can be particularly advantageous if different jurisdictions have laws more favorable to your situation. This choice can impact various aspects of the divorce, including property division and child custody arrangements.
  • Strategic Planning: Being the first to file can offer a strategic advantage, as it allows you to set the tone for the proceedings and take the lead in presenting your case. This head start can be beneficial in preparing your legal strategies and aligning them with your desired outcomes.

Disadvantages of Filing First

  • Potential Escalation of Conflict: Initiating the divorce process can sometimes heighten tensions between parties, leading to a more contentious or adversarial proceeding. It’s important to consider how your spouse might react to being served with divorce papers and prepare for the possibility of increased emotional stress.
  • Financial Considerations: Filing for divorce first can entail certain financial obligations, such as court filing fees and initial legal costs. It’s vital to factor in these expenses, understanding that starting the process means taking on these initial financial responsibilities.
  • Emotional Toll: Being the initiator of a divorce process can carry an additional emotional burden. It involves not only dealing with your feelings about the dissolution of the marriage but also managing the logistics and responsibilities that come with starting the legal proceedings.

How We Can Help You Decide

While deciding to file for divorce first carries both advantages and disadvantages, what matters most is making a choice that best supports your circumstances and future goals. At Cohen Family Law we can assist you in navigating this challenging decision with compassion and experience. We encourage you to reach out to us for personalized guidance and support, ensuring you move forward with confidence and the best possible legal counsel.