Does It Really Matter Who Files for Divorce First?


The truth of the matter is that it does not matter who files for divorce first when all is said and done. You and your spouse both have the same legal rights and responsibilities regardless of who files first. There is, however, more to it than this, and there are some factors to take into careful consideration.

The Psychological Advantage

Filing for divorce tends to be emotionally charged, and whether you do the filing or your spouse does, it will not alter this fact. There can, however, be a psychological advantage to filing first, which is based on the fact that you have taken a decisive step that reflects your careful decision to seek a divorce. Being in the position of taking action rather than having action taken upon you can effect a psychological advantage. Additionally, by filing first, you are not left scrambling to respond. At this point, you have done your preliminary work, and the ball is now in your spouse’s court.

The Practical Advantages

Although the initial filer experiences a heftier filing fee, there can be practical advantages to filing first that are important to consider. For example, if your case ultimately goes to court, as the original filer, you will present your case first, which means you have the opportunity to strike a tone and make a first impression on the presiding judge. Doing this can be an advantage but is not always so.

As the spouse who files first, you also likely have more control over the pendency of your divorce – because you have the option of initiating a 'temporary orders' hearing at the outset. If you are going to need financial help from your spouse as your divorce proceeds, for example, this can help lock it in sooner rather than later (which could obviously leave you at a financial disadvantage). Further, as soon as you file, certain standard orders are implemented that can help preclude problems regarding marital assets and custody issues from arising. Getting these in position at an earlier date can be beneficial. (Curious how your marital assets will be divided in your divorce? Click here to learn more) 

Do Not File First Just to File First

The decision to file for divorce is never an easy one, and it should not be made in haste. Consider all of the following:

  • Filing for divorce first solely to file first is not likely to do you any favors.

  • Your decision to file for divorce should be based on your decision that it is the right thing to do for you, and this decision should be based on your careful attention to the matter (not on an imaginary timeline).

  • The benefits that you may enjoy from filing first will not outweigh the negative consequences of rushing your decision to file.

Turn to an Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney for the Help You Need

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a seasoned divorce attorney who can help you explore your best options and proceed according to a divorce schedule that works for you and that supports your best interests. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 today.


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