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  • Writer's pictureSeth Eric Springer, Esq.

Are There Advantages to Filing for Divorce First?

Divorce is never easy, even if both spouses agree on literally every single part of the divorce agreement. More often than not, it’s a messy, lengthy, and expensive process that can do real harm to a man’s physical and mental wellbeing. One aspect of divorce that is particularly difficult revolves around the filing itself. Namely, is it important to file before the spouse does, and are there any benefits to doing so?

This article will go over all of the potential pros and cons of filing for divorce first. And while most of the items listed below can relate to either spouse, the article will focus on husbands.

The Pros of Filing First

The Pros of Filing First


The very act of filing first gives the spouse a lot of control. First and foremost, by filing first, the husband can also be the first to cancel the divorce, provided the partner doesn’t file a counter-response. In addition, by going through the process before the other spouse, the husband can gain plaintiff rights, which are covered in one of the following paragraphs.

However, there’s another level of control there. Partners that are first to file get the upper hand insofar as they get to control the way things go very early on.

The Element of Surprise

Partners that file first are often the same people who are mentally, physically, and legally prepared in advance. In other words, they are the spouses who have their legal team ready, their documents in order, and the dates neatly scheduled.

On the other hand, the spouse that gets served the divorce papers is often in a state of shock. That leaves a lot of room for mistakes and misconduct, which can work to the advantage of the person who filed first. It’s the textbook case of the element of surprise, only used in a legal context.

Picking the Right Place

Some couples living in the US tend to be in different states. For instance, the husband might be in Colorado due to work while the wife is living with their children in California. If that’s the case, the spouse can consider filing for a divorce in either of those states. That’s because laws regarding property division and alimony differ from state to state, and some conditions might benefit the husband more than others.

By acting first and talking to a legal expert, the husband can hope for an outcome that might cost him less and benefit him in other important ways.

Picking the Right Time

Usually, when the partner files for a divorce, the other partner has a brief period to respond. By filing first, the husband can choose a time when the spouse can’t prepare all of the necessary documents. More importantly, he can use this strategy to prevent her from doing something illicit like misplacing important documents. Sometimes, if the partner doesn’t provide everything within that time frame, the spouse who filed first can get a default divorce.

The Preparation Stage

Before filing for divorce, the husband needs to make sure he has the following:

● All of the relevant documents and papers regarding the couple

● Everything necessary for a potential custody battle

● Proper legal representation

● Enough funds to push through the courts (Find out how much does a simple divorce cost)

● A stable position (i.e. a job, a functioning bank account, a clean record, etc.)

Partners who file second usually have a limited time window to get all of the above. On the other hand, people who file first usually have most of those handled, which gives them an additional advantage.

Plaintiff Rights

The person who files first acts as the plaintiff during the court proceedings, with the other spouse being the defendant. As such, they have both the first and the last word in court. Usually, the plaintiff gets to present their case first, the defendant gets to respond, and the plaintiff gets to respond to that response. In other words, the person who files second only has one chance to present their arguments before the judge.

Asset Hiding Prevention

There are partners who tend to do illicit acts, such as having a hidden bank account OR transferring property to their relatives without the other partner knowing. Before filing for a divorce, the husband needs to check everything in advance to help make sure everything is in order.

Ease of Mind

Last, but not least, filing for divorce first will make the spouse feel like they’re in control of the situation. That can provide a much-needed confidence boost and some ease of mind. Both spouses need that, considering how grueling divorce can get.

The Cons of Filing First

Of course, there are definitely some disadvantages to being the first one to file for divorce. First and foremost, the partner who makes the first move will pay more than their spouse. After all, they have to cover the cost of filing, as well as additional research done by the divorce attorneys in York PA. But as for the costs, there may be a cheapest way to get divorced.

Next, the husband exposes his hand to the wife, so she can respond in such a way that it negatively affects his demands. That’s especially true if the husband pursues the divorce aggressively or if he asks for too much within the agreement.

Finally, as someone who files first, the spouse reduces the chances of potential reconciliation. More often than not, the two parties discuss the divorce at length to figure out what to do, and there may be a chance of actually saving the marriage. However, by being the first to file, the partner makes divorce official and, more often than not, inevitable.

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