Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First?
Going through the breakup of a marriage is never easy, nor is making the decision to file for divorce . While you may want to take every opportunity to work out the problems you and your spouse are facing, the fact is that there can be disadvantages to waiting too long to initiate the required paperwork. In addition to putting you in the position of having to respond to claims your partner may make in his or her divorce petition, it can also provide the time needed to hide assets and other important evidence in your case.
Under Title 19, Chapter 6, Article 5 of the Georgia Code , a divorce is initiated when one of the spouses files a petition. This petition provides important details, such as the names and addresses of the parties involved, as well as the date and location of where they were married. It also alleges the facts of the case, which are the general circumstances surrounding the divorce. This may include:
● The grounds on which the divorce is filed, such as adultery, cruel treatment, or desertion. If there is no ‘fault’ attached, the divorce may be requested on the basis of irreconcilable differences.
● If there were children of the marriage, custody will need to be determined;
● Whether there are issues regarding alimony and marital property to resolve before the divorce can be finalized.
The person filing the divorce is required to serve the petition on the other party, who is then given 30 days to respond. If they fail to do so, any statements made will be considered facts and the judge may grant the divorce on the basis of these claims.
While you are entitled to make a counterclaim if your spouse files for a divorce, there are obvious advantages in getting your own version of events out before a judge first. It puts the burden of proof on the other person in denying your accusations and can also help to ensure you are better prepared.
The State of Georgia advises that it is wise to do some advance preparations prior to filing for divorce. This includes gathering important documents, such as tax returns, birth certificates, and statements regarding financial accounts and any debts you possess. It is also a good idea to make a list of all marital property, such as real estate, furnishings, and personal belongings. This is relevant for any eventual divorce settlements or orders. Being the first to file ensures you have these documents and belongings secured before your spouse has a chance to hide or destroy them.
When you are facing the prospect of a divorce, our top priority at Zimmerman & Associates is to protect your rights and best interests. To discuss your options and the best course of action in your case, contact our Norcross divorce attorneys and request a consultation today.