Is There an Advantage to Filing for Divorce First?

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Is There an Advantage to Filing for Divorce First?

Post  Admin on Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:26 am

In many consultations I get asked whether there is an advantage to filing first for divorce in Arizona. From a procedural standpoint yes. The person who files for divorce (or any other type of case that is expected to be completed by default for that matter) has control over how quickly the case can be completed. As the initial filer you can choose what type of service is to be completed, when the application of default is filed and more choices as to when the default hearing is to be scheduled. In other words you can decide if you want to file on the deadlines on drag it out.

Also I have seen many cases when the filer just dropped the ball and had the case dismissed for lack of understanding of court rules and procedures. This is the biggest pit fall to people that choose to do the case without any professional help. So if you are served with a divorce and the other party is incompetent in the understanding of court procedures you could end up not getting your divorce completed and thus having to start the process all over again at a later time.

From any other perspective the answer is no. It does not matter who files first. This sort of question stems from a fear that it may be socially unacceptable to seek a divorce. Arizona is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that to get a divorce, you do not have to prove that one party or another did something wrong. Understand that the judge who will decide your case has likely seen thousands of divorces before he or she sees yours. It is highly unlikely that the judge will make a judgment call about the person who first filed for the divorce simply because that person filed first.

There are a few things to be aware of if you file for divorce first. If you file first, you are the “Petitioner” in the case and your spouse will be the “Respondent”. In the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona the Petitioner pays a filing fee to the court of $321.00 while the Respondent pays $256.00 if they file a response with the court, which in an uncontested matter the Respondent is not required to file. In a contested case however the Petitioner is expected to present their case first.

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