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When a marriage begins to fall apart, most spouses bite their tongues and pretend that nothing is wrong, as they are hesitant to be the first ones to file for divorce. However, it’s crucial not to neglect the potential strategic advantages of being the spouse who files for divorce first. If you feel like a divorce is imminent, it’s in your best interest to speak with our seasoned Monmouth County Divorce & Separation Attorneys, who can help you navigate your legal options and make informed decisions on the best way forward. Please continue reading to learn the benefits of filing for divorce first in New Jersey. 

Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First in New Jersey?

While filing for divorce first doesn’t give a spouse any inherent rights over their counterpart, it can disadvantage the non-filing spouse when deciding certain matters. To dissolve a marriage in New Jersey, one spouse has to file a divorce petition with the court. The filing spouse is called the “petitioner,” and the non-filing spouse is called the “respondent.” If you know that there’s no chance for reconciliation, you should consider the following strategic advantages of filing for divorce first:

  • The Location: As long as the petitioner follows the residency requirements about where they can file for divorce, the petitioner gets to choose the jurisdiction where the divorce proceedings occur. If you and your spouse live in different jurisdictions, you can make the other party travel to your jurisdiction for all divorce-related matters. This will, in turn, save you a substantial amount of time and money.
  • The pace of the divorce: If you’re the petitioner, you have more control over how quickly the divorce progresses. This is because you have initiated the process by filing first. Your spouse, the respondent, must respond to the divorce petition within the court’s timeline. Therefore, while your spouse is working on a response to the divorce complaint, you can adequately prepare your case with an experienced attorney.
  • The first impression: The spouse that files for divorce first provides the court with the divorce paperwork containing statements about the grounds or reasoning for the divorce. Therefore, the allegations in the petition will be the first information about the case the court receives. In addition, the petitioner is usually the first spouse to present their case.
  • The first opportunity to request temporary orders: If you’re the petitioner, you can ask the court for temporary orders before notifying the respondent of the initial divorce filing. This can result in limiting what can be done with marital funds, protecting one spouse from the other, awarding temporary child custody, and granting temporary child or spousal support. The respondent cannot request their own temporary orders until they have replied to the divorce petition.

If you’re contemplating dissolving your marriage, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined attorney from the legal team at Paone Zaleski & Murphy, who can effectively represent your interests.