Clients often have many questions when meeting a divorce attorney in Albany. One of the first questions a client may ask is whether they are better off filing for divorce or waiting for their spouse to do it. As explained here, there are benefits and drawbacks to being the first to file.
If You File Your Divorce Complaint First, Your Albany Divorce Lawyer Has More Time to Prepare
When you’re dealing with a contested divorce, you should know ahead of time that it will take close to a year for your divorce to be final. The last thing your Albany divorce lawyer will want to do is rush the process.
It takes time to make sure that your marital settlement agreement is comprehensive and fair, it takes time. Your divorce attorney in Albany will likely go back and forth with your spouse’s lawyer for months on end.
This is why it’s critically important that your lawyer has ample time to prepare.
How Long Does Your Spouse Have to File a Response?
Once you file your petition for divorce in Georgia, your spouse will have 30 days to file a response. This means they will only have 30 days to prepare their response. This can put your spouse at a serious disadvantage.
When you’re the filing party, your Albany divorce lawyer we’ll have months to prepare your case. This gives you time to do all the research you need to identify assets, debts, and other financial information. This is important as Georgia Code §19-5-5 requires you to include all this information with your petition.
This also gives you time to prepare for your life beyond divorce.
It Can Take an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Albany Months to Adequately Prepare
Even an experienced divorce attorney in Albany will need several months to adequately prepare your case. This is especially true in a high-end divorce.
Some of the things your attorney will need to do in preparation for divorce include:
- Confirm the jurisdiction where you will ultimately file for divorce
- Do a thorough investigation of any and all marital assets
- Speak to experts such as a forensic accountant to get an accurate picture of your family’s financial landscape
- Help you determine whether you want to sell the marital home or keep it for yourself
- Outline your objectives as far as child custody is concerned
Of course, there are many things your divorce attorney in Albany will need to do in the weeks leading up to your divorce complaint being filed.
Legally, It Doesn’t Matter Who Files for Divorce First
Legally, it does not matter who is the petitioner and who is the respondent in your divorce. The court is going to treat you the same regardless. This does not mean that there are zero advantages to being the petitioner.
If your case happens to go to trial, you will have an advantage over your spouse. This is because the petitioner in a divorce gets to speak twice at the conclusion of your divorce trial. The respondent only gets one opportunity to do so.
There are numerous other benefits, some of which will be discussed here.
Both Parties to a Divorce Have the Same Rights and Obligations
The family courts in Georgia must maintain equal protections and duties for both parties to a divorce. For example, the judge overseeing your case cannot grant child custody to you simply because you filed for divorce first.
Furthermore, as the filing party, you may be held to a higher standard from the outset. One example of this is the fact that your divorce attorney in Albany must ensure that your spouse is properly served with a copy of your complaint. This in itself can be expensive and time-consuming.
Your Albany Divorce Lawyer Will Explain the Benefits of Being the Petitioner
While there may not be any legal advantages to being the petitioner, there are many practical advantages. Some of these include:
- You can take care of your living arrangements so that you are prepared to move once you file.
- You can research and investigate schools if you plan on asking for primary custody of your children.
- Your divorce attorney in Albany can have your unique assets appraised, such as artwork and stocks.
- You will feel like you’re in the driver’s seat which can boost your confidence during the divorce proceedings.
Your Albany divorce lawyer will go over this in more detail when you meet.
Your Albany Divorce Lawyer Can Ensure Your Spouse Has No Time to Hide Assets
According to Georgia Code §19-5-7, once a divorce complaint is filed, neither spouse can transfer or divest assets. In a sense, your assets will become frozen. This can help protect you from having your spouse hide or transfer marital property.
By the time they consider moving or hiding assets, it’s too late. Of course, you take the risk of them doing this anyway. But if they do this after you file for divorce, they can be held in contempt of court.
There Is Also a Downside to Filing for Divorce First
While there may be several advantages to filing first, there are potential drawbacks as well. For example, once you file for divorce, your spouse can try to paint you in a negative light.
Another potential risk of filing first is showing your cards too early. When you file your complaint for divorce, you must include very detailed information. This includes information related to your assets, debts, and other financial matters.
You May Pay More in Court Costs, Filing Fees, and Other Related Expenses
As the petitioner, you’ll be responsible for certain fees and costs. For example, your divorce attorney in Albany must ensure that your spouse is served properly. This means you’ll have to pay close to $100 just for service.
You will also have to pay the fees charged by certain experts. While your Albany divorce lawyer prepares your case, you may need to hire fraud investigators, forensic accounts, and private investigators.
If You Want to Get Divorced, It Makes Sense to File Now
Regardless of whether you benefit from filing first, you need to make sure you hire a seasoned divorce attorney in Albany. They can make sure your divorce petition is filed properly.
Since the two spouses cannot be represented by the same Albany divorce lawyer, filing first also gives you first “dibs” on the experienced attorneys at our firm.
Your Albany Divorce Lawyer Will Help You Throughout the Entire Process
Most people take their time deciding whether they want to file for divorce. By the time you make your decision, the last thing you want to do is wait. Whether your divorce will be amicable or acrimonious, it’s a good idea to speak with a divorce attorney in Albany before you do anything.
While it doesn’t matter from a legal perspective who files for divorce, there are certain benefits to being the petitioner rather than the respondent. Your Albany divorce lawyer will explain all of this to you during your initial consultation.