Divorce Rule #1: File First!

Divorce Rule #1: File First!
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Divorce can come as a shock. More often, though, there is at least a sense that the marriage is running on borrowed time and divorce is looming right around the corner. Even so, many people wait for their spouse to make the first move, unaware of the advantages of being the first to file.

If you’re in this position it’s time to consider your options before you find yourself on the receiving end of divorce papers. 

While filing first doesn’t guarantee you’ll get everything you want out of your divorce, it does give you the upper hand. Read on for some of the reasons why you should consider filing first.

Filing First Puts You Several Steps Ahead

When you’re the first to file for divorce, it gives you more time to prepare. By the time your partner has been served, you’re already well on your way to preparing your case. With a competent legal team lined up, you will have already discussed what you want out of the divorce and the strategy to get it. You have time to gather all of the supporting documents and evidence you need before you file. 

On the other hand, your spouse has only a few weeks from the date they are served to get their affairs in order. They have to secure an attorney, prepare and file a response within 20 days. If they fail to respond in a timely manner you may be granted a default divorce. 

Time to Prepare Financially

Waking up to a life-changing divorce is bad. Do you know what’s worse? Having less than enough cash or credit to see the case through or being able to support yourself in the aftermath. 

Filing first — or merely deciding to file first — helps you prepare financially for substantial changes in your future. Once you make up your mind to file a divorce, the first thing to do is to start setting some money aside for the divorce process.

Most couples are financially intertwined and depend on each other. If you don’t have substantial savings, a job, or a credit card in your name, it’s time to start getting those things in order so you can be financially independent. 

Prevent Your Partner From Hiding Assets

It’s illegal and unethical to hide assets. Yet, your spouse may decide to get their hands dirty during the divorce process by moving funds or transferring assets into hidden accounts or to someone else. Filing first helps you control this situation two ways.

First, since you’re taking them unaware, they have little to no time to think about these dirty tricks. Plus, you have enough time to record all assets and financial accounts so that no one gets cheated.

Secondly, most states have an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) that limits the financial actions either spouse can take. In some counties in Texas, an ATRO will be automatically issued, while in other counties, you may need your attorney to file a petition for one. 

In a nutshell, you‘re much more financially protected when you file first for divorce.

You Get the First and Last Words

If your divorce is contested and you go to trial being the first to file,  you have the advantage of having both the first and last words in your argument. 

Here’s how:

When you file first, you’re the plaintiff, and your future ex is the defendant. The plaintiff gets to speak first and present their case. Then the defendant is allowed to respond to the plaintiff’s argument. After which, the plaintiff replies to the defendant’s response.

In other words, when you file first, you get two chances to present your argument, while your spouse only has one.

Indeed, offense is the best form of defense.

However, this opportunity to further bolster your argument is only an advantage when you have a team of experienced divorce lawyers on your case. Otherwise, it’s as good as nothing.

Home Court Advantage: You May Get to Choose Where Your Divorce Takes Place

Divorces are usually adjudicated in the jurisdiction where partners live or have lived. If you have more than one option legally available to you — maybe because you and your partner live in different states, or spend equal time in homes located in different states, for example, you may want to check the implications of filing in either of these states.

In matters of divorce, state laws can vary greatly and significantly affect the process and the outcome of your case. There may be different laws for alimony, property and debt division, child custody, and child support depending on where you file. 

It’s important to understand the different laws and how they could impact you. Consult with a seasoned attorney to help you pick your battleground.

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard – Schedule a 1-1 Consultation Today

If you feel your marriage is heading downhill and towing the path of “irreconcilable differences” or are considering divorce for any reason, then it’s time to contact an experienced divorce attorney.

At Scott M. Brown & Associates, we have curated a team of professionals concerned with making sure your rights and those of your children are fully protected. From the first call, we help you know your legal options and guide you through every step of the divorce process. 

You probably have less time than you think. You need to stay two steps ahead and avoid being caught off guard.

To learn your legal options and file first, speak with one of our experienced attorneys now.

Too Late, My Spouse Already Filed! Now What?

If you’ve already been beaten to it, it’s not time to throw in the towel and concede defeat. With our experienced divorce attorneys by your side, you can still swing the case in your favor and make things go your way. 

When your spouse (who is now the plaintiff) makes their argument, our seasoned attorneys can offer a bulletproof counter-argument to refute their claims and tip the scales in your favor. 

Call today to book a 1-1 consultation with a highly qualified attorney. You’ll be glad you did.

Scott Brown

Scott M. Brown is an experienced and passionate trial attorney who produces results. He is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (less than 1% of all attorneys in the state of Texas are Board Certified in Family Law). Scott was named to the 2016 Texas Super Lawyers (only 5% of the attorneys in the State of Texas are named to this prestigious list). He was also recognized as a Texas Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2012-2014 (only 2.5 percent of attorneys under the age of 40 in the state of Texas are named to this list). In 2015 and 2016, Scott was named as one of Houston’s Top Lawyers in H-Town magazine. He also possesses a 10.00 Avvo rating, which is the highest possible rating awarded by one of the nation’s premier legal ranking services. Scott’s focus on family law issues includes the toughest of divorces, modifications, complex child custody cases, enforcement actions, high net value divorce (including multimillion-dollar estates). Scott is a powerhouse and is devoted to his firm’s vision of giving his client’s the best possible legal representation. Scott is also a published author having contributed to the book Strategies for Family Law in Texas, 2013 ed.: Leading Lawyers on Handling Negotiations, Managing Client Expectations, and Navigating Recent Trends (Inside the Minds).

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