If your marriage is on the rocks, and you know the end is in sight, don't wait for your spouse to make the next move. If you're like many, you may be waiting for your spouse to file for divorce. Unfortunately, that's not necessarily the best move to make. Waiting for your spouse to file for divorce can actually put you at a significant disadvantage. Here are just four of the reasons why you need to be the first to file.
1. Maintain Home Court Advantage
If you and your spouse have already split up and divided your households, you'll need to ensure your ability to maintain home-court advantage. This is particularly important if your spouse has moved out of state. If your spouse files first, they may opt to file in their new state of residence, which may put you at a severe disadvantage. The best way to maintain home-court advantage is to be the first to file for divorce. That way, the divorce will proceed through your state of record.
2. Be the First to State Your Case
If your divorce isn't going to be amicable, or the marriage ended on a rough note, you want to make sure that you have the opportunity to speak first. Unfortunately, if your spouse is the first to file for divorce, they'll be the first to be heard, which means you'll be following up with answers and responses to their statements. However, when you file first, your voice will be heard first. This is particularly important where custody issues and marital settlements are concerned.
3. Ensure Access to Documentation
If you're concerned that your spouse is going to hide assets or prevent you from gaining access to vital information, you need to be the first to file for divorce. Submitting your paperwork first will give you the opportunity to gather documentation such as bank statements, tax returns, and investment portfolios before your spouse starts hiding assets. Once your spouse hides assets, it can be difficult to find the documentation you need for settlement negotiations.
4. Control Important Dates
If you're expecting a large payout, or you're about to change jobs that will include a substantial salary increase, be the first to file for divorce. In community property states, the date you file for divorce is the date that is used when dividing assets. If you wait until after your big raise, or after you receive the payout, you may be required to provide more of a marital settlement. Gain control of those important dates by being the first to file for divorce.
To learn more, contact your local divorce lawyer.