Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce?
When contemplating divorce, or if you and your spouse have discussed or threatened divorce, the next concern may be the benefits or disadvantages to filing for divorce. There are contradictory views on if there is any advantage to filing a divorce action or being served with one. These advantages or disadvantages can be discussed on a case by case basis with your Orlando Divorce Attorney.
Florida is defined as a “No Fault” state meaning that no evidence of fault must be presented in order to seek or obtain a divorce from a court. Therefore, many feel there is no advantage to filing the divorce action or being on the receiving end as there only needs to be an agreement that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, in certain cases there may be some advantages or even drawbacks to filing first, such as emotional impacts, timing, and payment of fees.
Just as in any demise of a relationship, emotions are high. Therefore, some find solace in the fact that they made the move and initiated the divorce proceedings. While those on the receiving end can feel blindsided. Even if divorce has been discussed between you and your partner, being served with the legal documents that your spouse has filed can have a significant emotional impact. Other individuals who initiate the divorce proceedings see it as a badge of honor to be the one who ended the relationship rather than being the one who was “broken up” with. However, this thought process negates the heaviness and significant commitment of marriage and equates it to an average dating relationship. It is important to remember that a divorce is a highly emotional process and it is critical to take these emotions in stride and assess them as they come. If you feel in your specific case it would be easier on you emotionally to file the divorce paperwork or be on the receiving end, discuss this with your Orlando Divorce Attorney to adjust your plans accordingly.
The timing of the divorce process may also be seen as a benefit to filing first. When you file the initial paperwork for your divorce, you are under no time constraints and can compile all the necessary paperwork when convenient for you before filing. You will have time to strategize with your Orlando Divorce Attorney, research and diligently determine your needs, assets, and the issues that will be present in your case. In contrast, if you are served with divorce documents, you have 20 days to file a response. This provides you with only 20 days to consult with attorneys, hire your Orlando Divorce Attorney, discuss the pertinent issues, implement a strategy, respond to your spouse’s petition and file a counterpetition if necessary. If you do not respond within the statutory 20 day limit, a default may be entered against you, where the court and your spouse can proceed in the case without your input.
Finally, fees are another aspect to consider when deciding if filing your divorce action first is in your best interest. When you file the action, you are required to pay the initial court costs or filing fees, and service of process fees. Generally, in Florida these costs are around $500. However, if you are served with the divorce documents, you are not required to pay any fees when filing your answer, your response is covered by the initial filing fees paid by your spouse. However, you will be required to pay filing fees if you intend on filing a counter petition in your case.
You may see different advantages or disadvantages to filing for divorce first or being on the receiving end of a divorce. However, the process must be discussed with your Orlando Divorce Attorney after analyzing your unique case. It is your decision alone when to file your divorce action with the court or to wait and be served with the divorce petition from your spouse.
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