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Is There an Advantage to Filing for Divorce First in Florida?

If you’re considering divorce, you may be wondering if there is an advantage to being the first to file with the Florida courts. 

From a legal perspective, the answer is no. As a no-fault state for divorce, either party can file for divorce (and will be responsible for paying the filing fees), and the only explanation necessary is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

While the person who files first will be able to choose their jurisdiction, which could be advantageous depending on the situation, in terms of outcomes, the judge will evaluate the case the same regardless of who files first. Per Florida Statute §61.021, at least one spouse must reside in Florida for six months before filing divorce papers, and they must file the petition in the county where they live. 

Personally and psychologically, however, there may be advantages to filing first.

  • More time to prepare – The person who files first has the luxury of time to gather documents, consult with a divorce attorney and emotionally process the significance of the event. While divorce is not something you want to drag out, filing first may be less stressful, as the spouse who is on the receiving end only has 20 days to submit a counterclaim in the divorce case. If they are caught off guard by the filing, these three weeks can go very quickly.
  • Financial protection – Once you file for divorce, the petitioner is no longer jointly responsible for debts accumulated by your spouse after the filing date. Moreover, any income or assets you acquire after that date are protected and not subject to property division during divorce. 
  • Protection with a civil injunction – If you feel threatened or feel that filing for divorce may put you at risk of violence, you may apply for a civil injunction and be granted a temporary restraining order against your spouse.

When it comes to divorce, it’s important to do what’s right for your given situation. If that means filing first, then you should consult with your divorce attorney and begin taking action. Regardless of what you decide, you want to move forward in a way that’s right for you. For guidance and support, get in touch with our team at the Vasquez de Lara Law Group today.