Why You Should File for Divorce First

There are more advantages than disadvantages to filing for divorce first in Wisconsin. The most important advantage to filing first is that you have extra time to prepare for the divorce or separation. By filing first, you get the first word on all divorce topics from property division to spousal support to child custody.

It is never easy coming to the conclusion that you need a divorce. But once you decide you no longer want to be married, there are steps you can take to make sure you are prepared and in control.

Pros and Cons of Filing for Divorce

Two of the first questions you will have are: “How do I file for divorce?” and “Should I file for divorce or let the other party file?”

That first question is fully answered in our article on filing for divorce. And whether you should be the first to file is up to you. To help you make your decision, the benefits and drawbacks are laid out below.

Learn how to file for divorce first in Wisconsin. Read our article on How to File for Divorce in Wisconsin.

Advantages to Filing for Divorce First

The advantages are more personal than legal because the court doesn’t favor either party based on who filed first.

  1. Timing and Control – When you are the one to file for divorce, you choose when the process begins, and you are the one to serve the other party. This means you can make sure you are safe when you tell the other party.
  2. Preparation – Then, because you decide when the process starts, you have time to prepare. You can ensure you have any evidence or anything else you might need for the coming divorce. If need be, you can also do things like make sure you have separate housing set up.
  3. Check and Protect Assets – Filing first gives you the chance to protect your assets. You can keep watch of your accounts and any physical assets, so that your spouse doesn’t hide anything. Plus, you have the time to assess all your assets and debts and start deciding how you want things divided in property division.
  4. Get Legal Help First – Once the other person gets served, they will have to scramble to get an attorney on their side. By filing first, you can get legal help before you even file, so you know everything will be done correctly.
  5. Choose the Location – The county that the divorce is first filed in is where it will continue. You are able to file in the county you have lived in for at least 30 days as long as you are a Wisconsin resident.
  6. Have the First Word – The person filing first has the opportunity to ask for temporary orders. With temporary orders, you can ask for things like a custody and placement schedule. Plus, the court sees their documents and statements first.

Disadvantages to Filing for Divorce First

For the most part, the disadvantages are the opposite of the benefits listed above, but there are a couple extras as well.

  1. Transparent – When you file first, the other party knows your demands right away. This puts all your cards on the table allowing your spouse to have time to prepare a defense. Having an attorney can help mitigate this because they have been through these negotiations before.
  2. Difference in Fees – Both parties have to pay a fee to start a divorce, but the petitioner’s fees are usually a little bit more. The exact fees depend on the county the case is filed in.

If you want some extra help figuring out how to proceed, contact a divorce attorney from Sterling Lawyers. It’s important to be fully informed before taking any major steps in the divorce process.

What to Do if the Other Party Filed for Divorce First

If the other party has already filed, your best bet is going to be to get an attorney as soon as possible. They will help you with the response process to make sure you have your documents correct and that you are asking for the right things.

This is especially important if you have children or a lot of assets. It is important because the temporary orders that outline interim property division and interim placement of the kids often reflect the final orders of a case. That is to say, if you get a good initial order, your chances of getting a good final order go up.

Did your spouse surprise you with divorce papers? Speak to one of our attorneys to find your next steps, call (262) 221-8123

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it matter who files for divorce first?

Legally, it doesn’t matter who files for divorce first, but on an individual level, it certainly matters who files first. The person who files for divorce first will have more time to prepare for the divorce process both physically and emotionally.

What is the first thing to do before getting a divorce?

The first thing to do before getting a divorce is to get an attorney. Your attorney will prepare you for the divorce process and make sure it all goes as well as it can.

Should I tell my spouse I filed for divorce?

Eventually, the other party will need to be served divorce papers. You don’t have to do it personally, and you shouldn’t do it yourself if the situation could turn unsafe. You can tell the other party right away if you want to, but you can wait until they get served the divorce papers.

What to do before telling a spouse you want a divorce?

Before you tell your spouse you want a divorce, make sure you are safe. This could mean having another person with you or not telling your spouse in person. Other things to do beforehand are to have access to all financial accounts and create a list of all assets. This list will make sure the other party doesn’t try to hide anything.

Book My Consult