The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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Racing to the Courthouse: Does Filing First Matter in Divorce?

Posted on in Aurora Family Law Attorney

filing first, DuPage County divorce attorneyMarriages end for all sorts of reasons, some financial, others behavior-based, and still others because of incompatible personalities. While divorce can provide a doorway to happier life, it is understandable that you may not want to put yourself at a disadvantage during the process itself. Whether the problem is genuine or just perceived does not really matter; if you feel a certain way, the impact on you is real enough. Many who are considering divorce often wonder if filing first makes any difference in the proceedings compared to waiting for their spouse to file. The answer to that question is fairly complex and depends on your specific circumstances.

No Legal Advantages

When you consider other areas of the law, such as criminal defense or personal injury, it is usually up to the filing party—the prosecutor or injured person—to prove his or her allegations. Of course, the burden of proof differs by the area of law, and may be shifted to the other party as the case proceeds, but, in general, the party who files has more responsibility and control over the suit. Divorce is unique in that there are no presumed roles or advantages for either party regardless of who files the petition for dissolution. You will each have the opportunity to make requests, file motions, prove your claims, dispute those of the other party, and otherwise be heard as equals throughout the proceedings.

Of course, your rights during the divorce process are dependent upon you appearing when required and participating. If your spouse files first and you refuse to show up or cooperate, the court could enter a default judgment against you, essentially granting your spouse everything for which he or she is asking in the petition.

Other Considerations

While the law does not provide specific advantages for filing first, doing so can offer more intangible benefits. For example, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement about filing a divorce petition, you may start to feel trapped in your situation. Taking aggressive action and filing first can be a necessary step in your personal growth, as well as toward a finalized divorce.

Filing first can also provide a psychological boost for you throughout the proceedings, regardless of any actual procedural advantage. Simply by filing the petition, you may develop a sense of control over the process which, in turn, can instill confidence that you are doing what is best for your family. When you approach your divorce with strength and self-assurance, you are more likely to stand and fight for what is important to you.

Weighing Your Options

If you are considering a divorce, an experienced DuPage County family law attorney can help you decide if filing first is the best choice in your situation. Contact the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., to discuss your case with a legal professional dedicated to protecting your best interests. Call 630-409-8184 and schedule your confidential consultation today.


The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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