Does It Matter Who Files First In A Divorce? | Bineham & Gillen

divorceDoes It Matter Who Files First In A Divorce?

October 9, 2023by James Gillen

Regardless of the situation, every divorce will have roadblocks you’ll have to navigate around. The scenario may feel challenging as if you’re always strategizing your next move. This raises the question – does it matter who files for dissolution first?

Bineham & Gillen has a team of family lawyers here in the San Antonio area that is ready to help with your next legal issue. No matter your personal situation, you can trust our professionals to guide you through the litigation process. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of filing for divorce first and what to do if you’re the party being served.

Does It Matter Who Files First In A Divorce?

Legally, it doesn’t matter who files for divorce first in Texas, but there may be some advantages to doing so. A court will ultimately dictate the terms of the case, but you will have the upper hand in a few aspects.

Advantages Of Filing For A Divorce In Texas First

No two dissolution cases are the same. There is no set outcome for how the litigation process will unfold, especially in court. However, filing for marital separation before your current partner may benefit your case in a few ways.

You Choose The Location

When you’re the one to serve divorce papers, you have a choice of the court where the case will unfold. In Texas, the original petition for dissolution must be filed where the petitioner or respondent has lived in the last 90 days. This factor can be favorable, especially if you and your spouse have separated.

You Control The Timing

When you’re the one who is served these papers, time is not on your side. It can be stressful to find a reliable lawyer within a short timeframe. Filing first allows you to control when the process begins, giving you a slight advantage over your partner.

You Have The Opportunity To Prepare And Set The Tone Of The Trial

Filing first gives you an opportunity to prepare your case. You have time to gather information, strategize with your attorney and set the initial tone of the situation. In addition to being mentally prepared, as the Petitioner, you go first in the trial.

You’ll read your opening statements first and call witnesses first during the trial. Additionally, you’ll be the first to present your closing argument. Being on the receiving end without the proper preparation can be stress-inducing – you’ll have to respond to the allegations the other side has made while attempting to tell your side of the story.

Cons Of Filing For Divorce First

Being the one to make the first move when filing for divorce can be beneficial. However, you may experience a few notable disadvantages throughout the process.

You Pay The Filing Fee And Other Legal Expenses

One drawback of initiating the dissolution process is the legal fees associated with filing first. The petitioner is responsible for the filing fees, which vary in price based on counties. In Texas, there is a rule that prevents the petitioner from personally serving the complaint to the respondent. You’ll have to hire a process server to complete this task.

Initiating A Petition For Divorce Has More Immediate Responsibilities

As the petitioner for your case, you’re responsible for ensuring all paperwork is filed correctly. You will also have to meet deadlines during the process, which can feel overwhelming if you aren’t adequately prepared.

Filing First Can Cause Emotional Strain

This process consists of many factors that can cause stress or anxiety. Initiating these legal proceedings can be an added stressor to a challenging situation, which may be emotionally taxing.

You May Feel Pressure To Present A Strong Case

When initiating your divorce, you may feel added pressure to present a solid legal case. You’ll need to provide supporting evidence throughout your trial to support your claims during the legal proceedings.

What To Do If You Are Served Divorce Papers

If you’re served with dissolution papers, it can be tempting to ignore them entirely. However, doing so can put your legal rights in danger. When granted divorce papers, consider taking the following steps:

  • Accept the papers to protect yourself.
  • Read over the terms with the help of a family law attorney.
  • Respond to the terms within 20 days.
  • Consult with a professional to assist with the filing procedure.

When going through a marital separation, it’s best to have a support system to guide you through the process. An experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate the process and minimize stress.

Response Timeframe For Divorce Papers In Texas

When you’re served these papers, you typically must respond within a specific timeframe. These guidelines are set by state law and can vary based on the service used to deliver the petition for divorce in Texas.

In the event that these papers are served in person through a personal service, you’ll typically have 20 days from the date of service to file a response with the court. When served papers by mail, you may have up to 30 days in some cases.

Texas Divorce Lawyers You Can Count On

Whether or not you decide to file first for divorce in Texas will depend on your personal situation and goals. Bineham & Gillen has a team of qualified family law attorneys here to provide you with personalized information that caters to your case. Contact us to explore your options on your dissolution case.