If you and your spouse have been considering divorce, this might be a very difficult time for you and your family. Whether you and your spouse have both been discussing divorce or if your spouse has been threatening divorce, you might be wondering whether you should be the one to file first. Does it matter who files first for divorce in Brooklyn, New York?
The person who files for divorce in a case will be called the “plaintiff” and the other party in the divorce is known as the “defendant.” This is legal terminology for how a divorce case will be handled by the courts going forward. USAttorneys.com notes that there can sometimes be advantages to filing for divorce first. What are these advantages?
- Unless two people choose to file for divorce together, the party that files first for divorce is often the one who is the most decisive in the divorce battle. Decisiveness can be advantageous because it can help you prepare adequately for the challenges ahead. If you are still wavering about whether you want to get divorced, you might not yet have gathered important documentation you’ll need, like information about shared assets and bank accounts. The person filing for divorce can often gather financial evidence before it can be destroyed. This evidence can include bank statements, tax returns, deeds to property, vehicle registrations, retirement account information, insurance policies, and information about any trusts or other valuable assets. Furthermore, if you are still uncertain about whether you want to get divorced, you might not have a clear exit plan for your marriage. Generally, the party who files for divorce has a little more time to prepare, while the party who receives the divorce papers is in a reactionary position.
- The Advantage of Being Proactive Rather Than Reactive. The party filing for divorce is often the one taking proactive action to end the marriage, while the party receiving divorce papers is often the party reacting to the other party’s actions. Being proactive can have important benefits, because you’ll have time to speak to your attorney before you file for divorce, learn before you file about potential challenges and roadblocks to your goals, and can take steps to gather evidence and appropriate documentation to support your divorce goals. The reactive party receiving divorce papers may have to take these steps only after the other party has already done so.
- Financial Planning Benefits. Filing for divorce first also gives the party who is filing the time to plan ahead financially. Sometimes the party who plans to file speaks to his or her lawyer, develops an exit plan, and then takes steps to gather together the financial resources to make this plan possible. The party receiving divorce paperwork may need to take all these steps only after the divorce process has begun.
- Protecting Your Children. If you feel you might need to use New York’s integrated domestic violence court system, filing for divorce first can give you time to put together any documentation you might have about your spouse’s abuse. This can be important if you plan to seek sole custody of your children. Gathering police reports and other evidence can take time.
- Place Where Your Case Will Be Held. If you and your spouse live in different states, the party filing for divorce determines the jurisdiction of the divorce. Some jurisdictions might be more favorable for some parties over others. This is where a divorce can get very complicated. If you and your spouse both agree to get divorced and live in different states, you might want to each consult your lawyers about where it might be best to file. If you anticipate a contentious divorce, you may want to be the one to file first so that your case will be heard close to home.
The advantages to filing for divorce first are largely tactical. The judge will view each party in the divorce case with impartiality, regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant. If both you and your spouse both agree to get divorced at the same time and both have taken time to plan ahead for your divorce, and agree about division of assets, child custody, alimony, and other issues, it might not really matter who files for divorce. But if you anticipate a contentious divorce, or if your partner doesn’t want to get divorced and you do, filing first may be a good option. However, before you take any steps, you might want to seek the counsel of a divorce lawyer in Brooklyn, New York, like the Elliot Green Law Offices. While it is possible for file for divorce without the assistance of a lawyer, a lawyer can help you navigate the legal system. The courts cannot help you with legal matters should you choose to represent yourself. The decisions you make regarding your financial life and your children during your divorce will remain with your family for years and often cannot be reversed. The Elliot Green Law Offices are divorce attorneys in Brooklyn, New York who may be able to help you if you are thinking of filing for divorce.