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Does It Matter Who Files First for Divorce in California?

Yes, it does matter who files first for divorce in California, but the significance of this decision varies depending on individual circumstances. While filing first can offer certain advantages, it's crucial to consider all factors before making this choice.

Common Misconceptions about Filing First for Divorce

There are some misconceptions surrounding the idea of filing first for divorce. One common misconception is that filing first gives you an upper hand in court proceedings. While being proactive can be advantageous, the outcome of a divorce case depends on various factors beyond who files first.

Another common misconception is that filing first will make you appear more “righteous” in the eyes of the law. In California, divorce or legal separation operates under a "no-fault" system. This means that the reason for filing, whether it's due to infidelity or simply irreconcilable differences, doesn't typically impact key aspects like spousal support, child support, child custody, or property division.

Benefits of Filing for Divorce First

Filing for divorce first may have no direct effect on the outcome of the divorce, but it can be beneficial in several ways.

  1. Control. Filing for divorce first allows you to take control of the process and set the pace for proceedings. You control when it starts, and if it goes to trial, you can present your case and call witnesses first. You can also choose to cancel the divorce as long as your spouse doesn’t file a response. 
  2. Preparation. By choosing when to file, you can be better prepared mentally, emotionally, and financially. You can also prepare the necessary paperwork, financial records, property records, and other necessary documentation ahead of time. Filing first also allows you the opportunity to request interim temporary orders for child custody, support, or spousal maintenance while the divorce is pending.
  3. Jurisdiction. Filing first allows you to choose the jurisdiction where the case will be heard, which can be beneficial in certain situations. If you and your future ex live or have lived in different states, you can choose to file in the state that is more convenient for you or that has divorce laws that are preferable to your situation. States have differing laws regarding asset division and spousal support, and your choice of state could greatly impact the outcome of those areas in your divorce.

Take note, that specific criteria must be fulfilled to file in a particular state. Either you or your spouse must have lived there for a designated duration (California requires 6 months in the state and 3 months in the specific county), and if you have children, they must also meet residency requirements in the chosen state.

  1. Protection. Some spouses can become vindictive when they know that divorce is imminent. They may keep your children from you, restrict your access to supposedly shared funds, or completely cut you off financially. By filing first, you can take steps to protect against these potential scenarios.
  2. First Choice of Representation. By filing first, you can have the first pick of divorce lawyers in California. This can be crucial, as the right divorce lawyer can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. 

Don't File First for the Wrong Reasons

It's essential not to file for divorce first for the wrong reasons, such as trying to influence children's perceptions of the other parent or gain an unfair advantage in property division. Filing for divorce should be based on genuine reasons and a desire to move forward with your life.

Other Options to Consider

Before deciding to file for divorce first, it's worth exploring other options such as mediation, collaborative divorce, or marriage counseling. These alternatives can help you and your spouse reach agreements amicably and minimize conflict.

Weigh the Pros and Cons with your Divorce Attorney

While filing first for divorce in California can have advantages, it's crucial to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consider all available options. It’s also vital to work with a law firm that understands your specific circumstances and acts with consideration of all factors involved. At Anthoor Law Group, we understand the complexities of divorce proceedings and can provide expert guidance tailored to your unique situation. If you're considering filing for divorce or need legal assistance, contact us today for compassionate and experienced representation.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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