Should you file first, or let your spouse file? Does it matter who files for divorce first in Michigan? The truth is, in most cases, not really. But in particularly acrimonious divorces, making the first move could be a good idea.
Deciding on the Jurisdiction
If you and your spouse have already separated, you may prefer to have the proceedings closer to you. In some cases, the jurisdiction where your spouse lives may have different rules governing alimony and child support which could benefit you — in which case you would want to file the complaint there. However, typically both spouses live in the same jurisdiction, so you won’t have an option where you file the divorce.
Gaining the Financial Upper Hand
When one or both spouses have significant assets, investments, real estate, or business ventures, the spouse who files for divorce can include an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) which prevents both you and your spouse from making significant changes to finances or estate during the divorce proceedings.
This is particularly beneficial if you believe your spouse is hiding assets. The ATRO prohibits your spouse from buying, selling, borrowing against assets, or otherwise muddying their financials.
Protecting Your Children
If your spouse has already moved out, you may be interested in preserving a situation that provides continuity for your children. If you file first, you can file a motion that ensures that their current living situation remains in effect. While your spouse can challenge this motion, they must provide the court with just cause or a very good reason for disrupting their children’s daily routine.
Choosing the Best Divorce Lawyer in Michigan
If you consult with multiple divorce attorneys in Michigan, regardless of whether it’s a short phone call or an in-person sit-down, your spouse is prevented from speaking to that attorney or securing their counsel in the future. Whoever files first can thus have the pick of the litter when it comes to divorce attorneys. You also prevent your ex from limiting your options.
My Spouse Filed First; Now What?
This isn’t necessarily a reason to be concerned. As stated earlier, most of the time, filing first will not necessarily confer benefits to the spouse filing. You do, on the other hand, have to act quickly.
Even in cases where there is no particular advantage, filing first gives the filer a more comfortable position from which to negotiate, especially when the divorce comes out of the blue.
Once the papers have been served to you, you have 21 days to respond. In that time, you should contact a skilled attorney, and then determine what it is you want once the divorce is finalized.
Talk to a Rochester Hills MI Divorce Attorney Today
So when does it matter who files for divorce in Michigan? It really depends on your situation and your goals. If you’re considering divorce, it’s important to understand your options. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you weigh the pros and cons of filing first, as well as guide you through the divorce process. Contact Sumner & Associates, P.C. today to schedule an appointment.