What Happens When You File for Divorce First in Texas?

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by | May 26, 2023

Making the decision to file for divorce is never easy, but in Texas, there are some things you should know before taking that step. If you choose to file first, there are certain implications and considerations that come with it. Knowing what these are can help make the process smoother and more successful.

Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

While the court doesn’t legally favor the person who files for divorce first, there are certain benefits of being the first to file. The Jimenez Law Firm is here to help you understand the different options when it comes to filing for divorce in Texas and what each of these options means for you.

Benefits of Filing for Divorce First

Filing for divorce first can set the tone for how the marriage dissolution will go – amicable or contentious. Crafting the initial divorce petition to emphasize cooperation rather than conflict can help resolve things amicably. However, if your spouse files for divorce first, they may take an aggressive approach, leading to more disagreements and tension. By filing first, you can control the narrative, at least initially.

These are some of the other important factors to consider when it comes to filing first.

1.      You Get First Choice for Professional Help – Divorce Attorneys

When filing for divorce first, you get the first opportunity to decide who your attorney will be and what type of legal assistance you’ll seek out. The Jimenez Law Firm has experienced attorneys in Texas with a strong track record in family law, and we are just as comfortable with alternatives, such as mediation or collaborative law.

2.      Choice of Court (and Location)

To file for divorce in Texas, you must submit the initial petition in the county where either you or your spouse has lived for at least 90 days. If you and your spouse are already living separately in different counties, it may be more convenient for you to have legal proceedings in the county where you currently reside. If your spouse initiates divorce proceedings, they may choose to have the court hearings in the county where they reside, which could be inconvenient for you. Divorce is difficult enough, and the last thing you will want to deal with is driving (or even flying) across the state for your divorce case.

3.      Control Over the Timing of the Divorce

To start the divorce process in Texas, you need to file a divorce petition. This is also when the mandatory waiting period of 60 days begins. Once your spouse is served with the divorce papers, they have 20 days to respond and file a counter-petition.

Control over this timeline allows you to account for times in your life when it may be particularly challenging for you to attend divorce proceedings.

4.      Opportunity to Properly Prepare

Filing for divorce first gives you an opportunity to prepare your legal and financial documents ahead of time, so that when the other side asks for them, you are ready. You can also take steps to protect marital assets – such as bank accounts or real estate – prior to filing. This is especially important if your spouse has a history of impulsive spending or other financial irresponsibility.

While the other party will have time to prepare, the clock starts ticking once you file the divorce paperwork. If your spouse files first, you may not have as much time to prepare as you would like.

5.      You Have Time to Find Additional Support (for You and Your Children)

When filing for divorce first, you can take the time to find additional support and resources that could benefit you and your children during this difficult time. This might include finding a mental health counselor, joining a support group, or seeking out legal advice from one of the best family law attorneys at The Jimenez Law Firm. You may also need to make sure your children have access to counseling services if they are struggling to cope with the divorce.

6.      First Chance to Request Temporary Orders

By filing first, you can control the start of the process and have an advantage in requesting temporary orders controlling things such as custody, child support, and who uses the marital residence while the divorce is ongoing.

7.      First to Present Their Side of the Case

Filing for divorce before the other party allows you to present your case first in court. This makes you the Petitioner (in other court systems, this position is better known as “prosecution” or “plaintiff”). This gives you and your attorney control over the flow of proceedings and evidence presentation. Being the first to present can provide a strategic advantage and set a positive tone for the rest of the case.

8.      Planning Helps to Avoid Being Emotionally Compromised

When you choose to file for divorce first, you have the opportunity to think through your strategy and plan ahead. This allows you to stay focused on the legal process and avoid being influenced by your emotions in court. It also gives you time to think through any potential objections from your spouse’s attorney or judge that may arise during proceedings. Filing first also gives you time to develop a negotiation strategy with your attorney.

Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First

While there are numerous benefits to filing divorce paperwork first, there are some important disadvantages that you should be aware of as well.

·        You Pay the Filing Fee

If you initiate the divorce proceedings, you will be required to cover the initial filing fee and other related expenses. Usually, the filing fee ranges from $300 to $400, and you cannot serve the complaint to your spouse in person. Because of that rule, you may need to engage the services of a sheriff, constable, or private process server to serve the documents at an additional cost of between $50 to $100. Although these expenses are somewhat insignificant, they may influence your decision on who files for the divorce first.

·        Additional Stress and Anxiety

Filing for divorce can be a very stressful and emotional experience. It may take several days or weeks for your spouse to receive the documents, during which time you may be filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Additionally, if they decide to file a counter-petition in response, it could complicate and draw out the entire process.

·        Filing First May Harm Your Relationship

Initiating a divorce is an action that can cause bitterness and resentment from your spouse. Filing for a divorce without any prior discussion with your spouse may potentially harm the relationship in the long run. This could make it more difficult to cooperate on issues such as child support, child custody, or spousal support.

Joint Filing as an Alternative

Filing for divorce jointly is a viable alternative to filing first and could potentially reduce legal costs associated with the process. Additionally, it allows both parties to be present in court and show that they are ready to move on from their marriage. However, before deciding to file jointly, you should make sure that you have discussed all of the necessary details with your spouse and are both on the same page.

Divorce attorneys serving Addison, Andrews, Argyle, Bedford, Carrollton, Colleyville, Coppell, Crane, Dallas, Denton, Euless, Flower Mound, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garden City, Gardendale, Goldsmith, Grandfalls, Grapevine, Hurst, Irving, Justin, Keller, Kermit, Lake Dallas, Lenorah, Lewisville, Little Elm, Mc Camey, Midkiff, Midland, Monahans, North Richland Hills, Notrees, Odessa, Plano, Rankin, Roanoke, Southlake, Stanton, Tarzan, The Colony, Wickett, and Wink.

In conclusion, filing for divorce first has several potential advantages, but it can also be a costly and emotionally taxing experience. It is important to weigh all the pros and cons of filing first before making your decision. If you decide to file for divorce first, make sure that you have a good understanding of the legal process and have a plan for dealing with potential objections.

Additionally, make sure that you are prepared to pay any associated fees related to filing the paperwork. Most importantly, when deciding who should file first, it is essential to consider all of your options and talk to an experienced divorce attorney before making your decision.

Divorce Lawyers You Can Count on For Results

The Jimenez Law Firm is a full-service family law firm, dedicated to helping individuals and families navigate the difficult times of divorce. Our team of experienced attorneys utilizes an efficient approach to resolve matters in an effective and timely manner. We are committed to providing our clients with compassionate support during this stressful process. Our lawyers have years of experience litigating divorce cases and understand the nuances that surround them. We are here to help you every step of the way, from filing your paperwork to handling any objections raised by your spouse. Contact our office today to learn more about how we can help you with your divorce.

Call the Jimenez Law Firm today at 214-513-0125 to speak with a qualified divorce attorney about your options for getting divorced.