In a legal sense, it doesn’t matter whether you or your spouse files for divorce first. This doesn’t have a bearing on family disputes and judges don’t include it as a factor in their decisions. Initiating the divorce first, however, can offer some personal advantages that may ultimately sway the outcome of the case.
You have more time to prepare.
If you decide to pursue a divorce before your spouse does, you get a head-start on preparing the legal structure to support you. By the time you file your divorce papers, you will likely already have a lawyer or adviser. You will have had time to gather relevant documents and witnesses.
By contrast, your spouse will have a limited period of time before the divorce procedure gets rolling. In Colorado, a spouse has only 21 days to respond after being served divorce papers. Even if your partner has anticipated the impending separation, your filing sets off official deadlines that the other party will have to keep up with.
You set the initial terms.
As the divorce petitioner, you get to state first your list of claims and demands. This puts the other party – the respondent – in a defensive position. For instance, if you seek child custody claiming that your spouse has neglected the child before, your spouse will have to find ways to refute this claim. This applies to most other divorce issues such as property division, spousal maintenance (alimony), child support, and domestic abuse.
You may get immediate relief.
A Colorado divorce may involve temporary orders that take effect while the case is pending. For example, the magistrate can decide to freeze marital assets, order temporary alimony, or set forth temporary child support. The earlier you tell the court about legal issues in your marriage, the sooner you may get a form of relief.
You can strategize on how the rules can work for you.
Factors such as timing, location, and particular laws can be used to your advantage in divorce. A significant example revolves around residency. You don’t have to initiate your divorce in the same state that issued your marriage license. You can file it in any state where you satisfy the residency requirements. If you have residency in two different states, this allows you to choose the jurisdiction of your case. You’ll want to file your divorce in the state whose laws might work better in your favor.
Another example is if you and your spouse have been living separately in different states. Both of you can file for divorce in your respective states, but if you file first, your state will have jurisdiction in the divorce case.
It may seem crude to file for divorce first just to gain an advantage over the other party, but this can be important when delicate family matters hang in the balance. If there are domestic issues you deeply care about, such as your child’s welfare or the protection of your hard-earned assets, it’s only reasonable to take steps towards a favorable divorce.
Consulting with a lawyer
Talk to us at Goldman Law for effective and professional family law advice. The experience of our Colorado attorneys with divorce cases goes toward providing you with the ideal outcome. Call us today at (303) 656-9529 to schedule a consultation.