Divorce paper in a law court
A divorce document and two marriage rings with a background of a law court

Filing first in a divorce proceeding offers several significant advantages to the petitioner. By filing first,  the petitioner and divorce lawyers set the pace of court proceedings and deadlines.  The petitioner may also have the ability to establish temporary maintenance and child custody arrangements and set the ground rules for permanent financial and child custody arrangements.

Waiting Can Be Costly

Once reconciliation seems unlikely, there are advantages of filing first. Waiting to file can be costly.

Jurisdictional Advantages of Filing for Divorce First

Filing first allows the petitioner to be heard first by the court. The petitioning party lays the groundwork for the contested issues, forcing the respondent spouse to prepare a defense.

Also, jurisdiction for the divorce proceedings resides with the court where the petitioner filed. The respondent must appear in the court of jurisdiction, saving the petitioner time and travel expense, and if the respondent resides in another state, the laws of Illinois will apply.

Procedural Benefits of Filing First

The spouse who files first usually receives early attention from the court, allowing the petitioner to set the stage for contested issues. The petitioner, or the divorce lawyers, also establish some control over future proceedings, providing input regarding court dates and deadlines for filing documents. This gives them a headstart in gathering necessary documentation.

Financial Benefits

The petitioner may also request temporary maintenance orders from the court. These temporary financial arrangements can help establish the parameters of the permanent financial settlement and division of marital assets.

By filing first, the petitioner makes it more difficult for the other spouse to conceal or dispose of assets. The petitioner also ensures that Illinois’ equitable distribution of assets and financial maintenance laws apply rather than the fifty-fifty division of assets laws in some states. Equitable distribution means that the petitioner may be entitled to more than half of the marital assets, providing a significant financial advantage.

Child Custody Benefits

The petitioner can also make his or her case for custody of children and request court-ordered child support. Filing first also allows the petitioner to present the reasons for child custody while the respondent spouse must defend the child custody claims.

Advantages Outweigh Waiting

Once a divorce is inevitable, the advantages of filing first usually outweigh waiting. Understanding these advantages can help a spouse receive a fair settlement.