Filing for Dissolution (Divorce) – Does it matter who files first?
Filing for dissolution (divorce) is often an emotional event. Many people wonder if filing for dissolution before the other spouse matters. Does it? While there are situations where it may be beneficial to file first, most of the times there is little consequence as to who files first.
When Filing First MattersThere are two reasons why a person would consider filing first: child(ren)*s safety or finances. Often, when a parent harms or provides a unsafe environment for a child(ren) during a marriage the other parent will file a petition for dissolution. When that parent files his or her petition for dissolution, they are required to file a preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction enters certain orders relating to the child(ren) against each parent that can provide some legal protections to the parent and child(ren). Additionally, the filing parent may file a motion for temporary orders requesting the court place into effect certain additional orders, most commonly, placing the child(ren) in the care and custody of the filing party while limiting or restricting the other parent*s access to the child. Thus, in a situation where a child(ren) may be harmed it is beneficial to file the petition for dissolution first.
The second situation wherein it may be advantageous to file first is if there are certain financial exposures on the horizon. In community property states, like Arizona, each spouse is responsible for and has an interest in the other spouse*s debts, obligations, liabilities, and assets. However, the community ends on the date the other party served the petition of dissolution. Thus, if one spouse continues to engage in dangerous financial decisions it may be beneficial to file and serve a petition for dissolution upon the other spouse in order to terminate the community and reduce further financial exposure.
When Filing First Does Not MatterIn almost all other situations, the party who files first does not obtain a quantifiable advantage in the dissolution. The Court treats the parties similarly regardless of who filed first.