If you have reached a point in your marriage where divorce may be on the horizon, itís important to acquaint yourself with the possible advantages of being the first to file.
You will be prepared
Divorce proceedings can be complicated. Depending on the marriage, there could be multiple assets, custody issues, and varying special considerations.
Filing first gives you the ability to get your affairs in order. You will have the advantage of meeting with qualified legal counsel, who can begin explaining the process and helping you gather required documents.
You will have easier access to required documents
Unfortunately, itís not uncommon for a spouse to hide, or try to prevent access to, documents that you need for your case.
For example, your divorce lawyer in Fort Worth may require tax returns, insurance policies, bank statements, wills, trusts, brokerage statements, real estate documents, etc. Filing first may help you gain access to these records that a slighted spouse may try to control later in the divorce proceedings.
You can choose your divorce lawyer
Once you establish a professional relationship with a divorce lawyer, and exchange privileged information, your spouse will be unable to use them, and vice versa. Filing first ensures you can choose the lawyer thatís best for your situation, and also ensures that your spouse canít use them.
If you wait too long and your spouse files first, they may meet with the lawyer you wanted. They donít have to leave as a client, either. All it takes is them having one appointment to lock in attorney-client privilege, and then you cannot legally use them for your own counsel.
You can choose your jurisdiction
Divorce proceedings can vary greatly depending on the county in which the documents were filed. Everything from child custody to alimony will be affected by the area in which your divorce will be adjudicated.
If you and your spouse are already separated, and living in different jurisdictions, you may want to check up on what will be affected by filing in your jurisdiction vs. theirs. Speak with a divorce lawyer in each area to better acquaint yourself with the advantages of each. You can set aside your own finances
If you and your spouse share your finances, then it would be wise to open a bank account in your own name, and begin saving for yourself. Even if your spouse handles the finances fairly, a divorce may make it hard to get approved for loans, credit cards, etc. You may want to apply for your own personal credit card before your spouse is aware of the divorce proceedings. This way, you can ensure you have an emergency backup, and at the very least it helps you begin creating your own financial life.
You can get emotionally prepared
Divorce proceedings can be emotional and traumatic, especially if there are children involved. When you file first, you donít have to worry about the emotional shock of your spouse springing divorce papers on you. Take advantage of this time by seeking out a good therapist. The more supported you are during this time, the better. Proper support can help you feel more secure, less emotionally drained, and better prepared to handle the proceedings.
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