Learn How Filing First Can Put You in the Driver’s Seat


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The saying “timing is everything” has been with us for a long, long time. But how does the term apply to divorce? More specifically, is there any advantage of being the first to file for divorce?

Legal Lingo for Who Files First

The person filing first for divorce is the “petitioner.”

The one served with divorce papers is the “respondent.”

Does It Matter in California Who Files First for Divorce?

It’s important to remember that California is a No-Fault Divorce state. Simply put, this means that – even in cases in which adultery or some other cause can be proven – neither party is actually required to prove the other spouse did anything wrong.

The family court judge will ultimately make an equitable determination over who gets what based upon the merits of the case, not who files first.

Advantages to Being the First to File for Divorce

Even though the judge’s decision is not based upon who files first, being the one to do so can position you for a series of advantageous moves throughout the divorce process.

  • Selection of jurisdiction.
    You as the petitioner can choose to file in the county where you live, leaving the odds in your favor that the case will be heard on your turf. That’s a huge advantage when you consider the alternative of having to travel long distances to meet with your lawyer or present evidence.
  • Your side will be heard first.
    Typically, a judge will read case paperwork in the order that it was filed, which means he or she will read your side first.

Also, your lawyer will probably be able to present your side first to the judge in a calm and reasonable matter without needing to be antagonistic to the other spouse.

It also means that your spouse’s defense will only be presented after your case has been established, and your lawyer will have the right to rebut the presentation made by your spouse’s lawyer.

  • Protect your assets and properties.
    There are numerous horror stories online of men whose soon-to-be exes emptied their bank accounts and sold off assets before the husband knew what hit him.

This is where filing first can protect your valuables. Once you file a petition for divorce, an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) kicks in.

The ATRO immediately locks the assets of the couple and prevents either spouse from transferring, liquidating or hiding them.

  • Preserving status quo of children’s routine.
    If you and your spouse have children, it’s crucial to remember that the petitioner can also file a motion that will preserve the status quo of where the children reside, their daily routine and time with parents.
  • Ability to halt the proceedings.
    Only the petitioner has the legal right to stop the divorce process by withdrawing the petition.

If You’re Thinking of Filing for Divorce, Call The Men’s Legal Center for Advice

As you can tell from reading above, there is a myriad of variables to consider before actually filing for divorce.

Here at The Men’s Legal Center, we invite you to leverage our knowledge of Family Court law so that you can be in the best possible position for a favorable outcome.

Call us at (619) 234-3838 or reach us via email.


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