Divorce: Should You Be the First to File?

No one wants to be blindsided by divorce, but if you and your spouse have reached the point where ending your marriage seems inevitable, you may be wondering whether or not you should go ahead and be the first to file, or bide your time and make your spouse do all the legwork of serving you with divorce papers. Which is more advantageous? Here are some important factors to take into consideration:

Filing first gives you time to find legal counsel and get organized: If you have made up your mind that come January 3, once the kids are back at school after the holidays, you are moving ahead and filing for divorce, you can then use the next six weeks to prepare at your own pace. Start interviewing divorce attorneys to discuss your needs. Learn what financial documents are needed when you file. Find out as much as you can about the divorce process in New Jersey, including the many options available for reaching a settlement (our NJ Divorce Road Map is a helpful resource for this). By taking the driver’s seat now on these matters, you won’t be left scrambling if you open the door to find a process server handing you papers.

Filing first may prevent your spouse from hiding assets: Filing first does not mean serving divorce papers on your spouse as some sort of “sneak attack.” Still, moving forward and being the first one to file may come with the beneficial side effect of preventing your spouse from having the time and privacy to hide assets, especially if you have taken steps to make copies of all recent financial account statements. If you are biding your time waiting for your spouse to file, you may be unknowingly putting yourself in a compromised financial situation down the road.

Filing first gives you a chance to plan for your future: Once you are resolved that you will file, you can start making necessary preparations, including establishing your own bank and credit accounts, and renting a new place to live, if necessary. It’s your future! Planning and getting yourself organized before anything happens can put you in a better position to make this future bright.

What questions do you have about filing for divorce in NJ?