If you considering separating from your spouse, you are not alone. Divorce is far from rare. According to data published by the Texas Department of State Health Services, approximately 80,000 married couples in the state split up each year.
During this potentially difficult time, it is crucial that you know how to protect your rights. If your divorce is not handled properly, it could drag on and you may even be left in a disadvantaged position.
This raises an important question: does it matter who files for divorce first? The answer is that ‘it depends’. In many cases, it does not make much of a difference. However, there are some benefits and some drawbacks to filing for divorce first.
3 Advantages of Filing for Divorce First
You Can Control the Timeline
One of the key advantages of filing for divorce first is that you can control the timeline. If you are ready to file, you have the right to take action. By doing so, you can stop your spouse from stalling the process any longer. Notably, once a person files for divorce, their spouse typically has 30 days to submit an answer or a counterclaim. This can be stressful. Filing first puts you in control.
You Will Choose the Forum (The County)
Your divorce has to be filed somewhere. Depending on the specific nature of your relationship, the location could matter to you. If you and your spouse still both live in the same place, then this will not be an issue. For example, if you both live in Austin, then the divorce can be filed in Travis County. No problem. However, if one spouse has moved away to a different part of Texas — or out of the state entirely — there can be some advantages to filing first. The first person to take action can file the divorce in their preferred county.
You Can Seek Temporary Orders
If you want to seek a temporary order from the court, it might make sense to file first. As an example, suppose that one parent wants primary custody while the divorce proceeding is still pending. They could seek custody by filing a temporary order with the court. In this situation, it could be advantageous to file for divorce and seek an immediate order. If you are considering seeking a temporary order, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced Austin divorce lawyer before you actually file your petition.
Two Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First
You Will Pay a Little More in Fees
A minor drawback to filing first is that you will have to pay a little bit more in fees on the front end. Generally, the party who files for divorce in Texas will be responsible for the fee. Most likely, this filing fee will be around $300. In the grand scheme of things, this fee may not be considered a big deal.
Your Filing Will Actually Initiate the Divorce
You should not treat filing for divorce as a race with your spouse. It is important to remember that submitting a divorce petition is a serious step forward in your marital separation. You should not file for divorce until you are sure that you are ready to end your marriage. If you still have reservations or you are still trying to work through things with your partner, filing for divorce could be a mistake.
Speak to a Top-Rated Texas Divorce Attorney Today
At the Law Office of Ben Carrasco PLLC, our Austin divorce lawyer is standing by, ready to protect your rights. To arrange a strictly confidential divorce consultation, please contact our legal team today. From our office in Austin, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Travis County, Bastrop County, Lee County, and Hays County.