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Are There Any Benefits in Being First to File for Divorce in Florida?


The decision to get divorced might be one of the toughest decisions a person will make in life. If you are considering ending your marriage, you may wonder whether there are any benefits in being first to file for divorce.

So, does it make any difference who files for divorce first? The short answer is yes. There are at least three benefits to being the petitioner rather than the respondent spouse in Florida.

You Have More Time to Gather Necessary Documents

During the divorce process, both spouses are required to submit a multitude of documents and information. Obviously, this can be a time-consuming experience. However, the filing spouse has more time to prepare and gather all the necessary documents.

Collecting documents, bank statements, and other relevant information and items for your divorce could take a while. However, if you file for divorce first, you have more time to prepare the documents before your spouse realizes what is going on.

You Can Protect Your Financial Interests in Equitable Distribution

As you may or may not know, any marital property that the spouses acquired, earned, or accumulated in the course of the marriage are subject to equitable distribution. It means that the court will divide all of your marital assets in an equitable – but not necessarily equal – manner. Marital assets that may be subject to equitable distribution include:

  • Marital home
  • Personal property
  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Credit cars
  • Loans
  • Joint debts
  • Mortgages

And anything else you and your spouse acquired or accumulated during the marriage (excluding gifts and inheritances that came to one spouse during or before the marriage).

By being first to file for divorce, you can protect your financial interests because your spouse will not have time to conceal, misuse, waste, or even destroy assets so that you get as little as possible.

Under the Florida Statutes Section 61.075, such conduct is considered wasteful dissipation of assets and will be taken into account by the judge when splitting assets in an equitable manner. However, by filing for divorce first, you can prevent such conduct by gathering all necessary evidence that clearly identifies all of your marital assets at the time of filing a petition for divorce.

You Have More Time to Work on Your Legal Strategy

Obtaining a favorable divorce settlement is all about finding the right legal strategy. In Florida, the respondent spouse has only 20 days to respond to the petitioner’s divorce papers. It means that the respondent spouse has only 20 days to build their legal strategy that would address all of the issues in their case, including timesharing, child support, alimony, property division, and many more.

If the respondent spouse fails to provide a response within 20 days, the petitioner will be permitted to file a Motion for Default.

Last but not least, by being first to file for divorce, you can get emotional closure sooner than your soon-to-be-former-spouse. If you are considering filing for divorce but do not know where to begin, contact an Orlando divorce attorney to receive a consultation. Speak with our knowledgeable and results-driven family lawyer at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., for a case review. Call at 407-521-7171 today.


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