Making the decision to obtain a divorce is typically not an easy one to make.  In some cases, both spouses will sense that the marriage is nearing the end.  In other cases, one of the spouses will be completely shocked when they are served the divorce papers, and they were not aware that there was any problem with the marriage.  Whichever your case may be, you may have heard that the person who files for divorce first wins.  While this is not true, there are several significant advantages to being the first to file for divorce.

Control Over The Divorce Case

Typically, when a spouse is filing for divorce, they are going through a range of emotions and might feel unsure and confused.  Being the first to file for divorce will usually give the filing party a certain degree of control and that control might help them feel more stable in their life.  Another advantage is that the initial filer changes your mind about the divorce or the proceedings are not going in their favor, they can withdraw or cancel the divorce cases by dismissing their petition.

In the alternative, often the initial filer of the divorce case has more options available to them to speed and move the case along.  For example, the filer of a case can usually ask the court to schedule a hearing to finalize the case.  While the case may still be delayed by the other party, the filing will be in a position to continue to push forward for the case to be finalized and a final judgment for divorce cannot be completely avoided by the other party.

Jurisdiction and Venue for the Divorce Case

If at the time if divorce the spouses are living in separate locations, such as a different county or state, a choice will have to be made on where the divorce will be filed.  And the person who initially files for a divorce will get to choose the county where the divorce is filed.  The advantage is that the spouse who files the divorce first can choose a location that is most beneficial for them be in for time and convenience, or the location has laws that favor the spouse.

Georgia law does provide rules and guidelines for venue and jurisdiction for cases to be filed that should be reviewed by an experienced attorney.  However, the location that a divorce case can proceed can usually be waived by the other party either intentionally or by not objecting in a timely manner.  Fortunately in a Georgia divorce case, if it became necessary, moving a case from one Georgia county to another is not usually a expensive or serious complication in a case, and the filer will still maintain their position as the original filer of the case as the plaintiff.

Matter of First Impression

In Georgia cases, the spouse who initially files the divorce will also be the first to present their case in a hearing.  This is an advantage because it gives the filing spouse the ability to present their case, information, evidence and needs to the court in calm manner sounds reasonable, poised, agreeable and persuasive.  Another advantage is that the initial filing spouse will usually be given the opportunity to rebut the case presented by the other spouse, effectively giving them two opportunities to present their case to the court at the same hearing.

The Standing Order

If the other spouse is unaware that you are planning on filing for divorce, you will definitely have the element of surprise. Once the petition is filed, a statutory restraining order (the Standing Order) is imposed on the custody of the children, marital financial assets and the taking on of additional significant debt.  This forbids the other spouse from taking the children out of the jurisdiction of the court or moving the children to a new home, spending a large amount of money, trying to dispose of assets and taking on significant debt especially if marital assets are used as collateral for the debt.

If necessary, either party can have an attorney file a motion to freeze or protect the marital assets and provide guideline and control of the marital finances.  In addition, Standing Order should protect you from being responsible for the any additional unnecessary debts your spouse may incur after the initial filing of the case. By filing first, you also cause the Standing Order to be invoked and have the advantage of being prepared to act on the benefits the Standing Order provides.  It has been our experience in Georgia divorce cases that the benefits of the Standing Order will frequently be a large factor in the decision of if and when to file a divorce case, with the party filing the case standing the most to benefit from the Standing Order.

Stability for the Children

As noted above, the Standing Order provides the spouse who initially files the petition for divorce the maintenance of the status quo of the children’s parenting.  This involves what is the daily routine, residence and school schedule for the children as of the date the case is filed.  This is done to the forbid the other spouse from making any significant parenting changes that might not be in the best interest of the children.  While either spouse can file a motion with the court to determine what is the best interest of the children going forward, the final decision will be made by the court.  Until further ordered by the court, the Standing Order will continue to preserve the status quo for the parties’ children, and it will only be overturned by the court if their is a strong compelling reason to do so.

Relief Can Be Asked For

If you find yourself in situation such as the other spouse moved out is not contributing their share of the marital bills, not providing any support for the children, or in the alternative they refuse to let you see your children, then filing for divorce as soon as possible can help remedy those situations.  When you file, you can ask the court to issue a temporary order to provide for payment of marital debts, child support, alimony and other reasonable forms of relief.  These are commonly known as “motions for temporary relief” and can be filed with the initial petition for divorce and usually heard by the court shortly after the divorce case is filed.

If you are facing divorce and need to consult with an experienced and caring Georgia divorce attorney, call 770-609-1247 to speak with an attorney and schedule a consultation.

Revised: 2016-11-02