No matter how long there has been conflict in your marriage or how long you have been separated, divorce proceedings in Georgia do not begin until one party files a Complaint or Petition for Divorce with the appropriate court. The party who files the complaint becomes the plaintiff in the case, and the other party has ample opportunity to respond and make their own claims. That said, being the first to hire a divorce lawyer in Forsyth County can have some benefits.
Emotional Benefits of Filing First
Divorce proceedings are emotionally draining, even under the best of circumstances. Depending on your personality and unique needs, being the one to officially file for divorce can help ease a little bit of that pain. First, you get the emotional empowerment of knowing that you walked away from an impossible marital situation. Also as the plaintiff in the case, you get the first and last word in court, if the divorce goes to trial, which gives you the chance to sway the judge or jury.
Filing Quickly May Help Validate Your Claims
Georgia allows “no-fault” divorce, which is when either party claims the marriage is “irretrievably broken with no hope of reconciliation.” There may be reasons you want to file a fault-based divorce, which can impact the court’s decision. For example, if your spouse is unfaithful and this causes the breakup of your marriage, you can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery and possibly get a more favorable result.
However, these claims only hold water if they are made in a timely manner. For example, if you file for an at-fault divorce many years after your spouse’s infidelity, it may be more difficult to convince a judge that the infidelity was the reason for your divorce.
Keep Your Spouse from Hiding Assets
While we always hope that spouses can be civil and trustworthy during a divorce, this is not always the case. If you suspect that your spouse may try to hide assets or retaliate financially, filing for divorce first can help. In the initial filing, you can ask the judge to keep your spouse from:
- Changing beneficiaries on retirement accounts
- Making changes to life or health insurance policies
- Transferring or selling property or financial assets
- Borrowing against marital property
- Otherwise hiding financial assets
Choose Where the Proceedings Occur
If you and your spouse still live together or within the same county, the divorce will take place in the same court no matter who files first. However, if you and your spouse live in different counties, filing for divorce first may ensure that the proceedings take place in a court that is more convenient for you. This can be particularly important if your spouse lives in a different state.
In addition to being more convenient, if your spouse lives in a state with different laws filing for a divorce in Georgia can be legally advantageous. For example, if your spouse lives in a state without no-fault divorces, and you want to file a no-fault divorce, you need to file in Georgia first.
Have Your Choice of Divorce Lawyers in Cumming, GA
Lawyers in the same firms cannot ethically represent both parties in a divorce unless they agree to a collaborative divorce. If you want the first pick of divorce lawyers in Forsyth county, you need to hire a lawyer before your spouse does. Contact us today to file quickly and correctly.