filing for divorce

Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First in Missouri?

filing for divorce

When getting a divorce, someone needs to file for divorce first to initiate the process and establish the legal proceedings. The person filing is commonly referred to as the petitioner and the spouse they’re requesting a divorce from is called the respondent. Though both parties will be involved in negotiations and court proceedings, some people are under the impression that filing first may offer some distinct benefits. 

Missouri divorce attorneys can represent your case whether you’re the first to file or the spouse responding. But there are a few things you need to know about being the petitioner. 

The Advantages of Filing for Divorce First

When you file for divorce first, you may be able to set the date of the proceedings and present your case to the court first. If you have a particularly demanding schedule or are worried about how you’ll handle hearing your spouse’s side of the story and their demands in the courtroom, filing first may be a good choice. 

When you’re able to set the date, you’ll likely find it easier to choose a date that works with your schedule. And by presenting your case first, you’ll be able to put your strongest foot forward without having to worry about your emotions or your response to your spouse’s demands coloring your arguments. 

The Disadvantages of Being the First to File for Divorce

Unfortunately, there’s a misconception that being the first to file makes you the more aggressive party or the more unreasonable party in the divorce. While there’s no way to ensure that friends, family, coworkers, and any others in your life won’t make snap judgments, the court won’t see it this way. 

That said, as the petitioner, you’re responsible for the initial filing fee. If your finances are especially tight, this can be seen as a downside. However, it shouldn’t keep you from initiating the divorce if you’re confident that a divorce is the right choice. Remember, you can always speak to your Missouri divorce attorney about your concerns and let them help.

The Court Views the Petitioner and the Respondent Equally

It’s important to remember that the court is responsible for ensuring that the terms of the divorce and any resulting settlements are fair and equitable. They shouldn’t prioritize a petitioner’s demands over the respondent’s. If you feel that you’re being treated differently just because you’re the first to file, discuss your concerns with your attorney.

Always Reach Out to an Experienced Missouri Divorce Attorney

Being the first to file for a divorce isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It all comes down to your personal situation. If your marriage is causing you more stress than you can manage comfortably or you’re certain that you and your spouse can’t work things through, take the first step and file for divorce. 

If you’re trying to decide if filing for divorce is the right move for your situation, don’t go it alone. Contact Columbia Family Law Group and speak with an experienced Missouri divorce attorney today.