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Is it better to be the first to file for divorce?

In a prior post, we announced that the day after Valentine's Day sparked divorce season. Since that time, we can imagine that countless people have either decided to end their marriages, or that an unsuspecting spouse has been served with divorce papers.

We have some sense of how a spouse must feel when he (or she) is served, but to hear it from third parties must be difficult. Real Housewives of Atlanta reality star Porsha Williams reportedly found out that her husband, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart, filed for divorce through media reports. Her attorney explained to the Associated Press that Williams would have preferred to hear the news from Stewart, and is very disappointed.

This story brings about the question: Is it better to be the first one to file a divorce petition?

Aside from being able to avoid the embarrassment and emotional anguish that comes with being served, there are some advantages to being a petitioner. First, you have an opportunity to determine the venue where the proceedings will take place. This may be important in divorces where a spouse wants to move to a different state with the children. There may also be an advantage to file in a venue where spousal maintenance or property division rules are favorable.

Second, by filing first, you may have a genuine opportunity to establish your wishes for a financial settlement. You may also have all the financial documents you need in order to establish your legal position for such a settlement. Further, by setting the tone, you may prevent the other spouse from dissipating marital funds.

Finally, you can control how the message is received. Perhaps it may be better than how Kordell Stewart delivered the news.

Source: ABC News.com, Reality star learned of divorce from media, March 27, 2013

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