When it comes to divorce, sometimes the situation can be relatively bitter and combative. Depending on the issues that led to the separation, both parties may be looking for a way to get an edge over each other so that they can make out better in the end.
One question that many people in Texas ask is – “is it better to file for divorce first?” While it may seem like doing so could help your case, the fact is that there are many more details that have to be considered before a judge can make a ruling.
Filing for Divorce: Petitioner vs. Respondent
If you decide to file first, then you will be the petitioner. Your partner will be the respondent, which means that he or she has to respond to your petition to get a divorce. While other states or counties may take this filing into consideration when making a final decision, it doesn’t hold much merit in Texas courts.
Simply put, it typically doesn’t matter who files first, only what’s at stake for both parties.
Advantages of Filing for Divorce First
Although being the petitioner may not affect the judge’s final ruling, there can be some benefits to being the first to file. These advantages may include:
Choosing the County in Which You File – if you and your spouse are currently separated and live in different counties, you may be able to file in the one most convenient to you.
Making Your Plea – when you file first, you can set the tone of the divorce by pleading fault or no fault. Although this plea can change during the proceedings, it can help your case, depending on the circumstances.
Temporary Orders Hearing – typically speaking, most divorces never go to court. Instead, they are settled in a series of hearings, which can determine various elements of the settlement, such as child support or conservatorship (custody). By filing first, you can usually have more time to prepare for these hearings, as well as plead your case first.
Preventing Fraudulent Behavior – if you’re worried that your spouse may act nefariously when confronted with a divorce, then filing first can allow you to get a temporary restraining order to ensure that he or she follows the law, particularly when it comes to hiding assets.
Other Considerations When Filing for Divorce
Although there are no guaranteed benefits or advantages to filing first in the eyes of the court, it can help you make your case even stronger. Talking with an experienced divorce attorney beforehand will ensure that you can make the process as smooth as possible. However, you want to consider these elements as well.
- Community Property – in Texas, both parties are usually awarded about half of any assets acquired during the marriage. The judge makes the ultimate decision as well, based on the evidence presented by both parties.
- Conservatorship – any child over 12 can issue a statement to the court outlining his or her wishes with regards to custody. Thus, if your children are over that age, their testimony can influence the court’s decision.
Get a Good Lawyer
Regardless of your reasons for filing for divorce, it’s imperative that you get quality legal representation. Don’t worry if you are the respondent in the case – your side will get heard no matter what.