For men and women living in an irrevocably broken down marriage and a certain divorce looming on the horizon taking that final step to initiate legal proceedings can be daunting. Many put it off for as long as they can; some in hope of reconciliation and others just waiting for their spouses to pull the trigger. But does it really matter who files first?
As a broad spectrum answer it doesn’t. Especially if this is going to be a mutual consent divorce. If both of you are in agreement then you both have the right to hire legal counsel and approach the courts. With the concept of ‘no-fault’ divorces gaining traction in the country, courts are more than likely to even waive off the cooling off period (usually 6 months) and begin the divorce process.
Things tend to be considerably more complicated with contested divorces. In cases of cruelty, harassment, adultery, abuse and/or abandonment it is always better to be proactive and take the first steps. If you’re the victim, being the one filling for divorce will give you a leverage to present your argument in a more succinct manner. Do keep in mind that the courts will decide the cases based on the merits of the arguments on both sides. However levelling such accusations after your spouse has already asked you for a divorce can sometime be taken as damage control or the pursuit of bargaining chips for favourable outcomes.
Often the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage are manifold. However it is always advisable have one central clause under which you would like to file for divorce. This is an important distinction to keep in mind if you’re the victim of more than one kind of cruelty, because each clause demands different kinds of time periods and evidences. For example; if your central clause for filing for divorce is abandonment then you need to wait for two years before you can approach the courts for this (read more about Abandonment/Dissertion here). However in case where your spouse has not only abandoned you but is also committing adultery you do not need to wait for the requisite two years. In such cases you can approach the court for the divorce once you have enough evidence to prove cheating. This also is true in cases of harassment and abuse.
So when should you file? The right answer is when you’re ready and confident of taking this life altering step. Arm yourself with the right knowledge to know what you’re about to walk into. Having a trusted circle of friends and family just has important as having the right legal advice. File for divorce once you’ve understood your rights in the case and also the consequences of your actions. Often people are caught by surprise by the counter allegations filed by their spouses, be prepared for this. You need to be upfront and honest with your legal counsel about the different aspects of your marriage; this will help them form your defence and protect your vulnerabilities.
At getmeadivorce.com we understand that divorce is something we’ve been raised to shy away from. But if you’re in a situation where you’re considering it, reach out to us. We have expert legal advisors and mediators who will help you understand your choices and evaluate your options. We’re here to help you cross this bridge to a better, happier more fulfilling life.