If I File for Divorce First, Does it Help My Case?
Experienced Franklin divorce attorney explains how it can have an advantage
Divorce can often feel like a battle. Just like in a battle, whoever strikes first can sometimes have a strategic advantage. In a divorce, that first strike is filing for divorce. You both already know that it’s coming – usually – but one of you may talk to an attorney and actually file the paperwork before the other can get to it. Other than just landing an emotional blow by letting your spouse know you are truly ready to end the relationship as quickly as possible, filing for divorce first could possibly give you an edge in Tennessee.
To start, whoever files for divorce first will be the lead in the case. That means that if the case has to go to trial – such as if you cannot reach an agreement through mediation – you and your attorney will present evidence first. Depending on the judge, I have seen how the ability to make the first impression can help my client prevail in a divorce trial. So in a case that could go to trial, it would be worth considering whether it would be important to file for divorce first if possible just in case we end up going to trial.
Even if your divorce proceedings never go to trial, there can still be an advantage to moving quickly. If you are the first to file for divorce, chances are good that you are also the first to have considered the divorce and the first to have talked to a divorce lawyer. That means you likely have already started planning strategy, which may have given you an advantage in collecting evidence, to build a case against your spouse, and to secure witnesses in favor of your custody claims, among other things.
In some cases, a spouse will hide assets when they know that a divorce is imminent. They want to keep more of the cash savings, investment account, and property from the marriage, and they aren’t sure that they will be able to get those things legally. Therefore, they can evasive actions to hide the assets and keep them for themselves. By filing for divorce first, you may be able to minimize this risk. You may think that your spouse would not do such a thing, but many people are surprised by the things their spouses do when a divorce action is initiated.
Finally, though it may not seem like it when you are first contemplating divorce, there may come a time that you and your spouse want to reconcile. If you file for divorce first, you will also have the power to dismiss the divorce proceedings, so long as your spouse has not filed a counter-complaint. Many like to have this control over how the case proceeds, so this is an important issue to consider when deciding when to file for divorce.
I’m Judy A. Oxford, an experienced Franklin divorce attorney, and I help my clients understand these and other potential advantages of filing for divorce first in Tennessee. I also explain other strategic advantages, depending on the circumstances of their case, to help them achieve the goals they have identified. I always try to help my clients settle their divorce quickly and amiably, but when that is not possible, I advise them on the best strategies to win at trial. If you are considering divorce, call my office at (615) 791-8511 or use the secure online form to schedule a free consultation and start learning about your legal options. I’m ready to help you protect your rights and secure the future you want after your divorce, including trying to get the settlement you need and the child custody arrangement you want.