Why It Matters Who Files First for Divorce in Massachusetts

| Aug 4, 2017 | Divorce |

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Sometimes a spouse can be blind-sided by his or her partner’s request for a divorce. More often, however, both spouses share a sense that the relationship is broken and can’t be fixed. When it comes to that, does it matter who files first? According to some financial and legal divorce consultants, it does.

Here are a few of the most important factors you need to consider:

Financial Advantages of Filing First

You can have your divorce team lined up in advance. 

Assembling the right team of qualified experts to help you achieve the best possible outcome from your divorce can take some time. You will need an excellent attorney, of course, and in financially complex divorces, it’s also essential to have a qualified divorce financial analyst on your side. 

You can gather all the documentation you will need before the divorce begins.

It is critically important to have in your secure possession copies of all relevant financial and legal documents. These include not only bank and brokerage statements and tax returns, but also insurance policies, wills and trusts, retirement account statements, real estate records, vehicle registrations, etc.

Locating and copying all these documents can take considerable time and effort, particularly if your husband is controlling or secretive where finances are concerned. Filing first means that you’ll have all your documentation organized and in a secure location before divorce papers are served.

You can ensure you have access to funds and credit before you file.

As soon as you think divorce is in your future, you should immediately begin to set aside money for the expenses involved. Make sure you have enough money to hire your divorce team; it is a critical investment in your financial future. Also, if you don’t have a credit card in your own name and you absolutely should! – obtain one as soon as possible, as it may be hard to do so later.

Filing first may prevent your husband from hiding assets.

Deplorable as it is, many spouses hide assets during the divorce process. Filing first, particularly if you live in Massachusetts, which requires an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order, may help guard against any underhanded tactics.

Legal Advantages of Filing First

Filing first lets you choose where your divorce will be adjudicated.
Divorces are generally decided in the jurisdiction in which they are filed. If you and your husband have already separated and live in different counties or states, or if you spend equal time at homes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, for example, it is worth your while to check into the legal implications of filing in the different venues legitimately available to you. State laws can be widely different regarding such crucial considerations as child custody customs and division of marital assets. Your experience and expected outcome might vary widely in different jurisdictions. Do your research, and consult with attorneys wherever you might file.

You may thwart some dirty tricks your husband could try to pull.
In particular, it may save you from falling victim to the trick known as “conflicting out,” by which the husband meets for quick consultations with all the best divorce attorneys in the area, thereby rendering them unable to serve the wife because they now have an attorney-client relationship with the husband.

The “first to file” may be the first litigant to present his or her case at trial.

But think carefully before you do as there are pros and cons to presenting first.
On one hand, if you’re the wronged spouse, you may feel the need to be the first to file for emotional reasons. No one wants to be the ‘rejected’ spouse. But on the other hand, you may not want to reveal your strategy to the other side, who can then adjust his or her presentation accordingly.

You may find that making the initial legal filing provides the psychological leg-up you sorely need, and that feeling more in control of the process will help you see the divorce through to your best advantage. 

If a spouse senses trouble in the marriage he or she should immediately meet with an attorney to obtain information about the law and gain practical insight about the process. After interviewing a qualified domestic relations practitioner, that spouse will have a keener sense of his or her spouse’s intentions with respect to the marriage going forward.

Call the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation to guide you through the divorce proceedings and help you secure a solid financial future.

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