Ten Advantages of Filing for Divorce First

Filing for divorce first means taking the initiative to start the legal process of ending a marriage. 

Filing for divorce first is not about rushing into a decision but rather about seizing the opportunity to shape the trajectory of the divorce proceedings. 

While some people might hesitate to file for divorce due to misconceptions and fears, being the first to file can offer numerous advantages.

Let’s explore these advantages in detail:

1. Strategic Planning for Your Case

Strategically preparing for divorce ahead of time and filing first can provide several key advantages. 

By taking proactive steps to plan for your divorce, you can gather necessary financial documents, assess your assets and liabilities, and gain a clear understanding of your financial situation. 

This preparation enables you to present a well-organized case to your attorney and negotiate from a position of strength.

2. Gathering Evidence

Gathering documents ahead of time is a crucial step when preparing for a divorce because it provides you with essential information and evidence to navigate the legal process effectively. 

These documents serve as a foundation for understanding your financial situation, property ownership, and other key aspects that will be addressed during the divorce proceedings. 

Here’s why collecting documents early is essential:

  • Financial Clarity: Financial documents like bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, and investment records offer a clear picture of your income, expenses, assets, and debts. Understanding your financial situation helps you advocate for a fair division of property and assets.
  • Property Division: Documents related to property ownership, mortgages, deeds, and titles provide evidence of ownership and value. This information is crucial when negotiating how assets will be divided between you and your spouse.
  • Asset Identification: By collecting documents related to marital and nonmarital assets acquired during the marriage, you can differentiate between assets that will be divided in the divorce and those that are not. This is important for ensuring an equitable property division.
  • Debt Assessment: Records of loans, credit card statements, and other debts help you understand your shared financial obligations. Accurate debt assessment is essential for determining how debts will be divided.
  • Income and Support: Documentation of income, bonuses, and other financial perks can influence calculations for spousal support and child support payments.
  • Child Custody and Support: Documents like school records, medical records, and communication with your children can provide insights into your involvement as a parent. This information can be relevant when discussing child custody and support arrangements.

Click here for a complete list of the items you need to prepare for your divorce.

3. Preventing Hidden Assets

The process of divorce involves creating a comprehensive list of assets, including bank accounts, retirement funds, real estate, personal belongings, and more. 

Initiating this inventory before officially filing for divorce guarantees an accurate understanding of potentially shared assets. 

This approach prevents your spouse from having the chance to relocate or conceal assets and associated information, ensuring transparency and fairness throughout the divorce.

4. Emotional Relief Through Filing First

Filing for divorce first offers a potential sense of relief. The journey leading to the decision to divorce can be emotionally taxing and seemingly unending. 

Taking the initiative to file can help alleviate the anxiety that comes with the uncertainty surrounding your marriage. Filing first signifies that you’ve mentally prepared for the forthcoming changes and are poised to embark on the next chapter of your life.

5. Hiring a Good Lawyer

Securing the assistance of a skilled attorney early in the process of considering divorce can offer a strategic advantage. By engaging with a knowledgeable attorney before your spouse does, you not only gain crucial insights into your legal rights and potential strategies but also have a better opportunity to select an attorney who aligns with your needs and objectives. 

Furthermore, consulting an attorney ahead of your spouse could prevent any potential conflict of interest, as your spouse will be precluded from hiring the same attorney due to ethical considerations. 

This approach not only allows you to proactively shape your legal strategy but also safeguards against your spouse retaining an attorney with whom you’ve already consulted, potentially preserving a level playing field in the legal proceedings.

6. Choosing the Jurisdiction

Filing for divorce first can allow you to choose the jurisdiction where your divorce proceeding will occur. This jurisdiction choice can offer advantages depending on the laws and regulations of different regions. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Jurisdiction Shopping: Jurisdiction refers to the specific legal authority and location where your divorce case will be heard and decided. Different jurisdictions have varying laws and guidelines regarding divorce, property division, alimony, and child custody. By filing for divorce first, you may select a jurisdiction that aligns more favorably with your desired outcomes.
  • Favorable Laws: Some jurisdictions may have laws that are more lenient or favorable to your specific circumstances. For example, certain states might have laws that favor a particular type of property division or alimony arrangement that benefits you.
  • Legal Precedent: The legal precedent set by previous divorce cases in a jurisdiction can influence how your case is decided. Choosing a jurisdiction with precedents that are advantageous to your situation might increase your chances of achieving your desired outcome.
  • Timing and Convenience: Filing first could allow you to choose a more convenient jurisdiction for you in terms of travel, accessibility, and court processes.
  • Strategic Considerations: If you have valid reasons for believing that your spouse might file in a jurisdiction that would be less favorable for you, filing first can help you gain an initial advantage by having the case heard in a jurisdiction more aligned with your interests.

It’s important to note that the concept of jurisdiction can be complex and is subject to legal rules and limitations. Most states have residency requirements, meaning you must establish legal residence before filing for divorce. 

Click Here for a List of The Easiest States to Get a Divorce.

7. Setting the Narrative

Filing for divorce first allows you to present your version of events first. This can influence how the case is perceived and potentially shape the narrative in your favor.

8. Temporary Orders

Being the first to file allows you to request temporary orders for child custody, support, and spousal maintenance. These orders can provide stability during the divorce process.

9. Avoiding Rushed Decisions

Filing first gives you the time to make thoughtful decisions rather than feeling rushed to respond to your spouse’s filing.

10. Presenting Evidence First

There can be an advantage to filing for divorce first in terms of presenting evidence. By initiating the divorce proceedings, you typically can present your side of the story and your evidence first. 

This allows you to set the initial tone and narrative of the case. Presenting evidence early on can influence the court’s perception of the situation and may shape their initial decisions on issues such as property division, child custody, and support.

By presenting evidence first, you can establish your version of events, highlight key points, and potentially guide the court’s understanding of the circumstances. 

Are There Any Disadvantages to Filing for Divorce First?

There are seven disadvantages to filing for divorce that should be considered. 

Click Here To See The Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First. 


Q. Can filing for divorce first give me an advantage in child custody negotiations? 

Filing first allows you to request temporary orders for child custody and child support. But filing for divorce first does not necessarily give you a significant advantage in child custody negotiations. 

Child custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child rather than who filed for divorce first.

Q. Can filing first impact the division of property and assets? 

Yes, filing first can influence property division, especially if you strategically choose the jurisdiction that aligns with your interests.

Q. What if my spouse files a counterclaim after I file for divorce first? 

Filing a counterclaim is a common response. Your proactive approach can still give you the advantages mentioned, especially in setting the narrative.

Q. Can I change my mind after filing for divorce first? 

Yes, you can withdraw your filing if you and your spouse decide to reconcile. However, consulting with your attorney before making any decisions is crucial.


Taking the step of filing for divorce first offers many strategic advantages that can significantly impact the entire divorce journey. 

From emotional preparedness to control over the divorce process, filing for divorce first allows you to set the tone and direction for a smoother transition. 

As you contemplate this decision, remember that seeking the advice of a qualified family law attorney can further enhance the advantages of filing for divorce first.

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Tim McDuffey is a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri. Tim is a licensed member of the Missouri Bar and Missouri Bar Association.

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