We've seen our share of clients who were blindsided when their spouse asked for a divorce. Some believed their marriage was going strong, while others knew their marriage was on the brink of divorce. Either way, the day divorce becomes real, it can be shocking.
More often than not, our clients had an inkling that they faced the prospect of divorce. Usually, the spouses know that their marriage is on borrowed time, and both spouses are quietly contemplating dissolving their marital union.
If this describes your marriage, you may be wondering if you'd be better off if you were the one to file for divorce first. Honestly, that's a good question but the answer isn't a simple one. Here are a few legitimate reasons why it may be in your best interests to file for divorce first:
1. You can line up an excellent divorce team.
You can proactively assemble a team of qualified experts to ensure that you achieve the best possible divorce settlement. Of course, you're going to need an excellent attorney, and if you have a financially complex divorce, we recommend having a qualified divorce financial analyst in your corner.
2. You can gather all of the relevant documentation.
When you're getting a divorce, it's critical that you copy all relevant documents, such as: bank statements, brokerage statements, wills and trusts, life insurance policies, tax documents, retirement account statements, real estate documents, vehicle registrations, mortgage documents, etc.
Locating and copying these documents is time-consuming, and it can be especially difficult if your spouse is the one that handles the finances or if they are secretive about these matters. When you file first, you ensure that you have copies of all of this information and they are in a secure place.
3. Filing first may prevent your spouse from hiding assets from you.
As deplorable as it may sound, spouses often hide assets during the divorce process. By filing first, particularly in a state such as California that requires an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO), it can help protect you against any possible underhanded divorce tactics.
4. You gain an edge from the "emotional component."
While we always encourage our clients to seek an amicable divorce and to think financially, not emotionally, there is an emotional component to filing first that can't be ignored. We don't need to tell you that filing for divorce can be heartbreaking and stressful.
Once you make the decision, though, there are some benefits from taking the first step towards independence. You may find that by filing first and doing your due diligence, it gives you the strength you sorely need, and having control through the divorce process can be used to your advantage.
To discuss your divorce with a Board Certified family law specialist, call Cutter & Lax today! Our San Fernando divorce attorneys are standing by.