Every state has different divorce laws. Here in Michigan, although the law doesn’t automatically favor the party that files for divorce, there may be some advantages for filing first for divorce.
Choice of Lawyer
One of the first steps is finding a lawyer that is a good match. When seeking an attorney to represent them in a legal situation as personal as divorce, many people are looking not only at the attorney’s successes and track record but at their personality as well. Take into account the attorney’s responsiveness and your comfort with the attorney’s staff and colleagues.
“In some divorces, personal issues such as intimacy difficulties, infertility, and infidelity, are central causes of the breakup and can alter the divorce negotiations significantly,” said Oakland County Divorce Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler. “You want to make sure that you are comfortable talking about these topics with your attorney.”
It might take a few interviews to settle on the right match. Filing first for divorce gives the filer a jump in the lawyer search process and therefore has access to all the attorneys in the area. Be aware that once a party has met and discussed the case with a lawyer, that lawyer is not allowed to take the case of the opposing party because of conflict of interest. In other areas of the country where there are fewer attorneys, this can be a real problem for the respondent who may be blocked from the only convenient, experienced options if the partner already “shopped” all the local attorneys. Here in Southeastern Michigan, there are no shortage of excellent divorce attorneys, but if you are selective, or have your heart set on a certain lawyer, you may want to lock in your first pick before your partner has a chance to either hire him/her or block you from hiring him/her.
Choice of Venue
An article about “Filing First” on the website, “ThinkingAboutGettingDivorced” states, “Another benefit of filing first is choosing the “Venue.” This is a fancy way of saying which courthouse the proceedings will take place in.”
Filing first for divorce allows the filer to choose where the divorce proceedings will take place. Although this is not a huge benefit for spouses that are still living in the same house, it can be a big advantage for those living apart. With all of the hearings and appointments that usually occur during a divorce, having the venue nearby can save travel time and the necessity of taking personal time at work. Choosing the venue can also advantageous if you are working with a particular attorney that only practices at certain courthouses. For partners living in different states, another potential advantage of choosing the venue is the selection of the state with the divorce laws that will be of greater benefit to your particular circumstances.
“The one who files first may choose the state in which it might be better off for them legally,” advises the article by “ThinkingAboutGettingDivorced.” The requirement in Michigan is that you must live in the State for 180 days and in the County, you file in for 10 days before filing. If there are minor children, the county they reside in is the one that you will file your action in.
Emotional Advantage of Filing First for Divorce
Once people are sure they are headed for divorce, it can help emotionally to file first because of the sense of playing offense. The person who files for Complaint of Divorce is not the “respondent.” Although there is much about the divorce process that is out of the clients’ hands, the decision to file first can give some people a sense of power or control of their situation. The action of filing also usually indicates a greater certainty or confidence in the choice to divorce.
Protecting Wealth or Safety
If you fear that your spouse would be apt to hide assets or harm you or your children during divorce, it is advantageous to get your case before a judge as soon as possible. Get your financial history on record or seek a restraining order right off the bat. Filing for divorce can give you the protection of having the courts and attorneys aware from the outset that your spouse may be capable of hurting you either physically, emotionally or financially. Respondent’s who bring up these issues after the other party files may have less credibility. A judge might wonder why, if the spouse was such a hurtful person, didn’t the respondent try to get help before receiving the Complaint of Divorce.
Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Attorneys can advise you about the choice to file first in divorce. The law firm, located in Milford, Michigan, serves clients throughout Southeastern Michigan including the communities of Milford, Highland, Hartland, White Lake, Commerce, Brighton, Canton, South Lyon, Novi, Grand Blanc, Clarkston, and West Bloomfield. Contact Kathryn Wayne-Spindler and Associates at 248-676-1000 for more information about filing first for divorce.