Pros and Cons of Filing For Divorce First

When contemplating the end of your marriage, you might be wondering if there are benefits to filing for divorce first. Truth be told, there are pros and cons.

What Does and Doesn’t Happen When You Fire the First Shot In Your Divorce

You are likely familiar with the expression, you snooze you lose, but does that stand firm if you are a Colorado Springs resident wondering if there are any advantages to filing for divorce first? Could it do more harm than good, or does it make any difference at all?

Filing for divorce is a major life decision. Terminating a marriage means filing a lawsuit at the local courthouse, just as you would if you were suing someone for breach of contract or causing a personal injury. Even if you and your spouse remain amicable and agree on all of the major issues in their divorce, someone still needs to file a Petition of Dissolution of Marriage to get the ball rolling and provide the vehicle through which a judge will enter a final divorce decree. 

But in many Colorado Springs divorces, the parties have significant disagreements and months or years of built-up hostility or distrust. Or, one party may not even realize that their spouse is considering ending their marriage until someone serves them with the petition for divorce.

If you are considering divorce, here are the pros and cons of filing for divorce first. 

Pros Of Filing For Divorce First

Controlling the Timing

If you know that you want to end your marriage, filing first allows you to control the when and where of your divorce. You can determine the timing of your filing as well as when your spouse receives notice of your intent. If your spouse is prone to anger, impulsive actions, or violence, you may want them served with papers while you and your children are out of town or somewhere safe. By knowing when you are going to pull the trigger, you control the timing of the “reveal.”

Selecting The Location and Venue

By filing first, you also control where your divorce will take place. If both parties reside in El Paso County, filing for divorce in El Paso County provides neither advantages nor disadvantages to either party. But if you and your spouse now live in different cities, counties, or states, the party filing for divorce first has certain advantages. For instance, filing first ensures that you can hire a local divorce lawyer and attend proceedings at the courthouse and attorney’s offices near your home. When your divorce proceedings are held in many zip codes or time zones away, you face the inconveniences of travel and potentially wasted time.

Time To Prepare

Like any significant life decision, deciding to divorce your spouse requires thoughtfulness, strategy, and planning. There are steps you should take prior to filing a petition that can protect your rights, finances, and position when contentious issues arise during the proceedings. By filing for divorce first, you will afford yourself the opportunity to take care of such matters as:

  • Setting up separate accounts for banking, cell phone and Wi-Fi service, and other key services that are part of your shared day-to-day life. 
  • Making new or temporary living arrangements. Once you file for divorce, either you or your spouse may want to find a place to live other than in your current shared home.
  • Gathering financial information and documents so that you have a complete picture of your financial situation as you begin the divorce process.
  • Obtaining and preserving any evidence of your spouse’s actions, statements, or behavior that may impact custody or visitation issues for your children. 

Ability To Seek Immediate Help

Filing for divorce first gives you the forum to seek immediate help from a judge if your spouse engages in threats or violence or engages in other behavior that puts either your or your children’s health, safety, and well-being at risk. 

Related: Considering Divorce Soon? Here are Five Things to Do Before Filing for Divorce

Cons of Filing For Divorce First 

You May Pay More

The spouse that files the petition for divorce first is responsible for paying El Paso County Court the initial filing fees involved in commencing a divorce proceeding, as well as the attorney's fees incurred for the preparation and filing of the petition. 

You Show Your Hand

In your filed petition, you make specific requests for relief regarding spousal maintenance, child custody, visitation, and support, control of the marital home, and other matters. Filing the complaint puts all of your cards on the table.

You’ve Upped The Ante

By filing for divorce, you have significantly raised the stakes. No longer are you contemplating or thinking about divorce – you are getting divorced. Whether your spouse sees it coming or not, filing for divorce first makes it clear that you do not consider reconciliation a viable option.

Perkins Law: Colorado Springs Divorce and Family Law Firm

Whether you are considering filing for divorce, or find yourself on the receiving end of your spouse’s divorce petition, it is crucial that you have a compassionate and understanding family law attorney who will fight for your rights.  Perkin's Law was created to provide a very personalized approach to divorce representation. Our goal is to make this difficult time in your life as low-stress as possible.  Please call us today or complete our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Read More About Preparing For Divorce:

Avoid These Big Mistakes When Getting a Divorce in Colorado

Filing For Divorce: What To Tell Friends And Family

Am I Entitled To Spousal Support?


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