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Does It Matter Which Spouse Files for Divorce?

Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce in Massachusetts?

If you are considering the possibility of filing for divorce in Massachusetts, or if you suspect your spouse might soon be filing for divorce, you may be wondering: Does it matter which spouse files for divorce? While it is certainly possible to achieve an acceptable divorce outcome if you are not the spouse who files for divorce, there are many benefits to filing for divorce first. At the same time, there are potential disadvantages that can also come with being the party who initiates the divorce case. We want to provide you with more information about the advantages and disadvantages of being the spouse who files for divorce.

Advantages of Filing for Divorce First

There are many important benefits of filing for divorce. Under Massachusetts divorce law, all property of the spouses will be classified either as marital or non-marital (i.e., separate) property, and marital property will be distributed between the spouses according to the rules of equitable distribution. Yet marital property can only be divided equitably if the court has full knowledge of all property. As the spouse who files for divorce, you can gather important information and documents that will be necessary for a fair divorce case and which your spouse might try to conceal or destroy.

For example, you will need to gather tax returns, pay stubs, and a variety of other financial documents for the divorce case. In addition, it will be critical to have records concerning valuable property, such as art collections or real property. If you file for divorce first, you can take more time to ensure that you have copies of all of these materials before your spouse is served with divorce papers.

Beyond having time to gather documents and other materials, you will also have a bit more control over the early stages of the divorce process since you will determine when to file and when your spouse will be served with divorce papers.

Limitations of Filing for Divorce First

While there are certainly benefits of being the spouse who files for divorce, there can also be some disadvantages. First, you will be responsible for going through the process of filing for divorce, which means you will need to determine whether to file for a no-fault or a fault divorce under Massachusetts law. In filing for divorce, you will need to prove that you meet the requirements for a Massachusetts divorce. As the spouse who files for divorce, you will also need to pay the filing fees.

Contact a Massachusetts

You should discuss the benefits and limitations of filing for divorce with a Massachusetts divorce attorney, and whether or not it will matter if you are the spouse who files for divorce or responds to divorce papers after your spouse has filed. In either scenario, you will need to have an experienced Massachusetts divorce attorney on your side to represent you throughout your divorce case. Contact the Law Office of Rachel M. Matos today to learn more about your options for your Massachusetts divorce.