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Should I file first for a Divorce?

rechel & associates, p.a.


The question often arises during a divorce “should I file first for a divorce?” Theodore Rechel of Rechel & Associates in Tampa, Florida answers this question.

Video Transcript: The timing of the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage is key to the date that the court has to recognize for identifying marital assets and liabilities. It is also the date by which the court generally will value marital assets and liabilities. So if there continues to be the acquisition of new assets and liabilities by one party, then that party would be motivated to file a petition for dissolution of marriage as soon as possible, because all assets and liabilities acquired after the filing of the petition are non-marital, and awarded to the party acquiring those assets and liabilities. However, if one party is not emotionally ready to file, because they're not convinced that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or if one party does not have a good plan of action, and needs time to gather information and make decisions as to what the plan of action would be, then there's a motivation to wait and to not file. One advantage of filing first is by the time you get to trial, the party that files first, the petitioner, will present his or her case to the court first. The respondent, who is the non-filing party, will then present the case at trial, and the petitioner has a rebuttal case. So the petitioner at trial goes first and third in order, and the respondent is relegated to going second. As you know, you always remember the first and the last things in a sequence, and you tend to forget the second thing in a sequence. So if you go to trial, then the petitioner's case tends to resonate in the mind of the judge better, and the respondent's case tends to be forgotten. So there are very advantages and disadvantages, and it would be beneficial to consult an attorney to make a case-specific determination in each party's case.

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