Many people going through a divorce are often caught off guard by the initial filing. They may have felt the issues plaguing the marriage weren’t enough to warrant a divorce, or perhaps they thought they had conducted their undesirable behavior in secrecy. Whatever reasons prompted the divorce, the spouse caught unaware is at a disadvantage. When you file first, it benefits you. However, this is not an encouragement to race to divorce. A healthy marriage is vastly superior to divorce, but if you know the marriage has run its course, don’t wait around for your spouse to begin the process.

You Get to Establish the Tone of the Divorce

When you file first, you have the opportunity to set the tone for your divorce in the initial proceedings. Spouses who begin with unreasonable stances, or ridiculous accusations create a disaster that is almost impossible to unravel. You do not want to be the one surprised by a false accusation regarding drug use or infidelity from your spouse’s complaint. By being the first to the gate, you get to establish whether your divorce will be cordial or antagonistic, and by doing so, determine how long and stressful you want the process to be.

You Can Have Your Pick of Attorneys

Many divorcing spouses will try to limit the pool of attorneys the other can choose from through a method called “conflicting out”. This means the antagonistic spouse meets with dozens of attorneys for a short consultation about the case. Once they do that, they will have client privilege with that attorney, and have created a conflict of interest for the other spouse. That means the spouse late to the game will not be able to choose any of the attorneys the ill-meaning spouse has consulted with. Hiring your attorney first means you have access to the best resources for your situation.

You Can Be the Most Prepared

Beginning the divorce process takes time and requires gathering important documents. You don’t want to be the spouse scrambling to collect what you need and working with counsel in a rush to meet deadlines the other spouse created.

At the very least, for a divorce you’ll need these documents:

These items can take time to gather. You want to have them all on hand and enter the proceedings as calmly and prepared as possible.

You Can Protect Your Financial Rights

In the community property state of California, it’s crucial that you do not give your spouse time to hide or shuffle around the marital assets you’re entitled to. Spouses may disagree on what each person has a right to, so it’s best to not give the other an opportunity to unilaterally decide what you are owed. Additionally, filing first means you can set aside the money you will need for the process. Ensure you have access to funds and credit cards to pay for the expenses involved. 

You Can Choose Where the Proceedings Will Be Held

For spouses already living apart, this is crucial. By filing first, you can choose the venue that is most convenient for you, your children, and your legal team. This is also very significant when it comes to variations between state laws regarding marital assets and child custody. You’ll want to file in the jurisdiction that is most beneficial to your situation and needs.


If you’ve decided divorce is the best choice for your future, don’t wait for your spouse to file first. Contact us at 714.456.9118 or send us an email at We will make sure you have all the benefits of filing first with an excellent legal team.

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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