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Advantages and Disadvantages of Filing First for Divorce in Florida


If you are thinking about ending your marriage in Florida, you may be wondering whether you should be the first to initiate the divorce process.

But are there any advantages or disadvantages of being the first to file divorce paperwork in Florida? Can you actually get the upper hand by filing the initial petition before your spouse?

The Advantages of Filing First for Divorce in Florida

Consider these four benefits of filing first when preparing for your divorce in Orlando or elsewhere in Florida.

Having More Time to Prepare

If you initiate the divorce process, you can do so on your own timeline. In other words, you can wait for the right moment without being dependent on your spouse’s schedule.

It takes time to fill out forms, collect financial documents, and consult with divorce attorneys, not to mention that you must do all these things under a great deal of stress, especially if your relationship became contentious.

Choosing Your Jurisdiction

Florida law – Fla. Stat. § 61.021, specifically – requires at least one spouse to have resided in the Sunshine State for six months before filing divorce papers. Another requirement is that you must file for divorce in the county where you live. Filing in the county where you live may have advantages for your situation.

Protecting Your Finances

By establishing a separation date through initiating the divorce proceedings, you avoid joint responsibility for debts accumulated by your spouse after that date. You also protect the income you earn and the assets you acquire after that date.

Note: Any debts and assets accrued by a spouse before that date are considered marital property and will be split through property division.

When filing for divorce in Florida, you can also obtain a standing order, which is a legally binding document that prevents your spouse from hiding assets, selling or transferring property, and removing your name from his or her accounts.

Finding Emotional Closure

Initiating the divorce process empowers the filing spouse and helps them find emotional closure faster, especially if their marriage has become too intolerable and unhealthy. The sooner you take this critical step, the better for your emotional, physical, and psychological wellbeing.

The Disadvantages of Initiating Divorce in Florida

In addition to the advantages of being the one who files for divorce first, there may also be possible drawbacks.

Ending Your Marriage

The spouse who files for divorce first is the one putting the last nail in the coffin of their troubled marriage. For many, this is a difficult step to make because it means that they no longer want to try to work out their differences.

However, if your marriage is irretrievably broken and/or puts a toll on your emotional or physical wellbeing, you should not hesitate to initiate the divorce process.

Paying Filing Fees

In order to initiate the divorce process – or any civil action, for that matter – you must pay filing fees to the clerk of court in the county where you submit papers. In Orlando, filing fees for divorce amount to $408, which include the final judgment recording fee but exclude summons.

However, Florida divorce courts allow you to waive the divorce filing fees under certain circumstances. In some cases, divorcing people may qualify for the divorce filing fee waiver even when they do not qualify for government assistance.

Allowing Your Spouse to Make a Counterclaim

Some people consider it a disadvantage that their spouse will submit a counterclaim and address all possible claims in the initial petition. Under Florida law, a spouse has 20 days to respond to their spouse’s divorce petition. After the counterclaim has been submitted, the initiating spouse can answer the counterpetition within 20 days.

Talk to our Orlando divorce lawyers at Donna Hung Law Group to determine whether you should file for divorce first. Call at 407-999-0099 today.

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