In divorce cases does it matter who files first.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

I often get this question during a consultation with a potential client who is considering a divorce.   What are the advantages of filing first?

There are several reasons why a client would want to be a Petitioner rather than a Respondent:

First, it is the Petitioner who gets to give an opening statement to the judge first.  That is the first impression during a litigated case.

Secondly, the Petitioner gets to pick the time of the filing and this date is significant due to a cut off of marital debt.  Often times in divorce cases, the filing date is the cut off date used by the judge to determine marital debt values.  This date can also be used by the judge for business valuations.

Thirdly, the Petitioner gets to pick the jurisdiction.  For example, if a husband relocated to Palm Beach and the wife remained in New York, and one who races to the courthouse first gets the convenient forum. 

The only advantage to being a Respondent is that it is the Petitioner who petitions the court for divorce has to pay the court filing fees.  As of this writing that is $409 ini Palm Beach County.

For more information about this subject or other divorce proceedings, click on the Robin Roshkind, P.A. website at or call for a consultation appointment with one of the attorneys at the Firm at 561-835-9091.


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