Is There A Benefit To Filing For Divorce First?
Even if you and your spouse are already considering divorce, you may not yet have decided who will file the petition with the court. Who actually files for divorce can have an enormous emotional impact, can affect the timing of divorce, and can determine who will be responsible for certain fees. For help determining whether it would be in your own best interests to file for divorce, please reach out to our experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorneys today.
Emotions are often high when a couple decides to end their marriage, so it is unsurprising that many people find solace in actually initiating legal proceedings by filing a divorce petition with the court. Individuals on the receiving end of these petitions, on the other hand, could feel blindsided by the news, especially if they have not been in close contact with their spouse. Even in situations where a couple has discussed divorce, actually receiving the papers can have a significant emotional impact.
It is important, however, for divorcing couples to prepare themselves to prepare for and take these emotions in stride. If, for instance, you feel like filing for divorce would be easier on you emotionally, you should discuss that option with a Florida divorce attorney and then adjust your plans accordingly.
Who files for divorce can also affect the timing of the divorce process. Those who file the initial petition for divorce, for example, will not be under as many time constraints, but can instead take as much time as they need to:
- Compile all necessary paperwork;
- Strategize with a divorce attorney; and
- Research and determine their assets and needs, as well as the legal issues that they may face.
In contrast, individuals who are served with divorce papers only have 20 days to file a response. This means that the recipient will have only until this deadline to consult with an attorney (if he or she hasn’t already done so), obtain legal representation, discuss pertinent legal issues, implement a sound strategy, respond to the petition, and if necessary, file a counter petition. Those who miss this 20 day deadline risk having a default judgment entered against them, in which case, the court and the filing spouse can proceed with the divorce without the input of the other party.
Responsibility for Fees
Who will be responsible for fees is another aspect that divorcing couples should consider when deciding who should file first. The person who files a petition for divorce, for instance, will be required to pay initial court costs, as well as filing and service of process fees. Those who are served with divorce papers, on the other hand, don’t need to pay any fees when filing an answer, as any response is covered by the initial filing costs. If, however, a person intends on filing a counter petition, he or she will need to pay an additional filing fee.
Speak with an Experienced Florida Divorce Lawyer
As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to filing for divorce first. For help weighing the pros and cons of filing for your own divorce, please call dedicated Florida divorce lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.