Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First?

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by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Clients who come in to see me for a divorce consultation often ask if there is any advantage to filing for divorce first and before their spouses do.  As far as substantive facts and law, there is no advantage or disadvantage as to whether you are the petitioner, asking for the court to grant a divorce, or the respondent, the spouse who is served with the petition and has to respond.

However, strategically, there is an advantage to being the petitioner and filing for the divorce first.  In terms of going to trial, if you are the petitioner, you get to present your case to the judge first.  You make the first impressions on the judge.  You get to present the facts of the marriage from your perspective first.  You make opening statements and closing arguments first.

The disadvantage of filing for…

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