Making the decision to get divorced is never easy, regardless of the circumstances. Figuring out how to divide assets and where the children should spend weekends and holidays can be difficult concepts to accept.
And through it all, you may be afraid that the clock is ticking.
“What if my spouse files for divorce before me? Should I call a lawyer today? Does it matter who files for divorce first?”
Like most issues surrounding divorce, this is one that deserves a closer look.
Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First?
There are plenty of reasons why you may want to file for a divorce, but trying to do it first doesn’t need to be one of them.
Like each of the other 49 states, Florida is known as a “no fault” state when it comes to divorce. This means that neither spouse has to give a specific reason for starting divorce proceedings. Simply citing that you have “irreconcilable differences” is enough.
Since the reason for your divorce does not need to be brought before the judge, there are no legal benefits to being the petitioner (i.e. the person filing for divorce).
Another concern that many divorcing couples have is child custody. Many worry that the first to file for divorce will automatically get custody of the children. This is patently untrue; Florida guidelines favor joint custody of children whenever possible.
Should I File For Divorce First?
While it doesn’t have a legal effect on the divorce, there are many reasons why people choose to take initiative and jumpstart the proceedings themselves.
Under Florida law, property and finances that are earned during the course of your marriage are joint property (i.e. owned by both of you). Once you file for divorce, however, any money or property acquired after that date is owned separately.
If you are trying to protect your finances, you may want to file for divorce sooner rather than later.
In some cases, it may be in your best interests to get in front of a judge sooner rather than later. If you feel that you or your children are in danger in the marriage, you may choose to file for divorce as soon as possible.
Feeling In Control
When there are a lot of questions and uncertainties surrounding an impending divorce, it’s very common to start feeling like the situation is out of your control. Being the one to file for divorce can help reverse this feeling.
If you have been extremely unhappy in your marriage, or you simply don’t wish to drag the process out, you may choose to file for divorce as a way to give yourself emotional closure and “get it over with.”
This can be especially helpful if you suspect that your soon-to-be-ex will drag his/her feet or try to talk you out of divorcing.
Talk To an Attorney First
It may be tempting to rush into divorce court so that you feel you have the “upper hand,” but divorce is a serious legal proceeding. You should never file for divorce without being fully prepared.
There are multiple aspects to consider when couples divorce; an experienced family law attorney can walk you through what to expect so that no stone is left unturned.
For example, do the two of you have minor children? Do either of you own a business? Will you be seeking alimony? These are all issues that can complicate the divorce.
Speaking with a divorce lawyer beforehand will give you an idea of what to expect as well as ensure that you are prepared for whatever the future holds.
Here For You
As a family law attorney for more than 10 years, I can assure you that—much like marriages—divorces should only occur after plenty of careful thought.
Rushing into a divorce simply because you feel like you “should” only makes it more likely that you will neglect crucial issues that could come back to haunt you.
At Leap Frog Divorce, we understand the whirlwind of emotions that you are feeling during this time. That’s what makes expert guidance so crucial.
Our law firm is 100% focused on divorce and divorce-related issues. From mediation to child custody and alimony cases, we will stand beside you throughout your divorce case to make sure your rights are well-represented.
Financing options are available. Call today to see how we can help.