You and your spouse may have discussed divorce, but perhaps you didn’t decide who would actually be pulling the trigger on filing first. There are pros and cons to making the first move, both financially and emotionally, and it’s important to put serious thought into whether filing first for a Michigan divorce is in your best interest.
1. You decide the jurisdiction for your divorce.
Typically, the person who files first for divorce gets to choose the jurisdiction in which the case will be heard. This is especially important if you and your spouse are already separated and living in different locations. If your spouse is some distance away, you could find yourself inconvenienced and traveling quite a bit, which will suck up your free time and money. Laws can vary by jurisdiction as well, and might not be favorable to you – especially regarding child custody, child support, spousal support, or division of marital assets – if your spouse files first in his or her jurisdiction.
2. You have the financial upper hand.
Some spouses may attempt to hide assets during the divorce process, even though it’s illegal and unethical. However, if you file for divorce first and your divorce action includes an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO), it prevents either spouse from significantly changing the financial status of the marriage – by selling off major assets or making huge purchases – once a divorce has begun. The ATRO preserves all assets and prohibits borrowing or selling insurance, modifying beneficiaries, selling against property, destroying assets, hiding assets, or changing bank accounts.
3. You protect your children.
Not all divorces are amicable, and not all couples have the same ideas about what is best for their children. If you file first for a divorce in Michigan, you can also file a motion that preserves the status quo for your children, including where they live, what their daily schedule and routine is like, and how parenting time works out, until the court rules on the matter further. This prevents any major disruptions to the lives of your children that isn’t in their best interest at such a tumultuous time.
4. You boost your confidence.
It is not easy to go through a divorce, and you may already be feeling defeated that your marriage is coming to an end. But filing for divorce first doesn’t have to feel like failure, it can feel like accomplishment. You are making the choice to take the right steps to build a new future for yourself. You’re establishing boundaries where they may have been sorely needed. You’re acting rather than reacting. Just make sure you’re not rushing to file divorce papers merely out of spite. Filing for divorce first should be an empowering move, not one made in an emotional rush.
5. You may present your evidence first at court proceedings.
Some people think it’s to their advantage to “play” first when it comes to divorce, and that includes presenting their case first in divorce course. The spouse who files for divorce first typically is the first to be heard in court proceedings, mediations, and hearings. While this can be beneficial in that it allows you to present your case without antagonism, this opportunity could backfire if it gives your spouse extra time to see your strategy and then refute your case.
6. You get to choose the best Michigan divorce attorney.
If your soon-to-be ex-spouse is the first one to file for divorce, he or she may consult with multiple divorce attorneys in the area. Whether it’s a brief phone call or in-person meeting, this connection establishes an attorney-client relationship and creates a conflict of interest that renders the attorney unable to serve you even if your spouse ultimately does not hire them (a move that was famously highlighted on The Sopranos). If you file first and know the divorce is coming, you have your pick of Michigan divorce attorneys and can prevent your spouse from limiting your options.
There are, of course, pros and cons to filing first for your divorce. Your Michigan divorce attorney will advise you on the best course of action for your particular situation, though their advice will always include the pulling together of a strong and competent divorce team. Ready to file for divorce? Thinking about filing first for a Michigan divorce? Not sure what to do? Contact an experienced Michigan divorce attorney at Femminineo Attorneys in Mt. Clemens, MI, to schedule your no-cost initial interview.