Spouses in unhappy marriages sometimes reach an impasse that keeps them locked in relationship limbo. Specifically, neither spouse wants to be the one to make the first move and file for divorce.
Some people think that by filing for divorce, they will look worse to the courts or to their community. They may worry about consequences in their religion or in their immediate family. What really happens when you are the first one to file paperwork with the courts?
You get to plan ahead and choose your timing
If you are the one who files for divorce, you know exactly when it will occur. You have the opportunity to protect yourself by making alternate living and financial arrangements. You can get copies of your important household documents and make an inventory of household resources before you and your spouse separate. When you do file, you will feel in control of the situation and well-prepared.
You get to propose the initial custody and property settlement arrangements
When you submit divorce paperwork to the courts and serve your ex, you get to propose what you think would be reasonable custody arrangements and property division solutions. They may counter with their own suggestions, but you can begin the process of pushing for terms that you feel are important and establish a starting point for those negations.
What if your spouse files first?
Just because your spouse took the initiative and filed for divorce before you does not necessarily mean you are at a disadvantage. Some people worry that contesting a divorce filing will make them look back to others or the courts, as they are the ones who turn the divorce into a disagreement, not just a dissolution.
You shouldn’t accept unfavorable terms just because you worry about what others will think. The courts see contested divorce filings all the time, so responding to contest the suggested terms will not hurt your position.
The steps that you need to take to protect yourself will still largely be the same. You simply will have less time to make that process on your own schedule. You have the opportunity to respond to your spouse’s filing, negotiate better terms and prepare to set yourself up independently.
Thinking about what happens when you file for divorce can help you plan for what will undoubtedly be a major change for your family.