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Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First? 

Jeffers Law Office Nov. 27, 2023

If you’re thinking of filing for divorce, you may have many questions, such as if there is an advantage to filing for divorce before your spouse. If you are considering filing for divorce in Johnson County, Kansas, contact a reliable family law attorney at the Jeffers Law Office in Overland Park. Attorney Mark Jeffers is ready to explore your options and come up with a plan that would be best for you, tailored to your specific needs.  

Benefits of Filing for Divorce First

If you file for divorce first, you are called the “petitioner” and your spouse is called the “respondent.” Initiating divorce involves filing a petition with the appropriate court and then notifying your spouse by serving them with divorce papers unless they agree to cooperate by signing a Voluntary Entry of Appearance waiving the issuance of summons or by retaining legal counsel.   

There are indeed many benefits to being the first to file for divorce. These benefits include: 

Choice of Court Location

As long as you or your spouse have been a resident in Kansas for 60 days before filing the petition, you can seek a divorce in Kansas. If you file for divorce first, you must file the petition with the Kansas district court located where either you or your spouse lives. If you are the petitioner, you get first choice in deciding where to file for the divorce. If you and your spouse live in different areas, you can file with the court that is closest to and most convenient for you.  

Control Over Timing

Being the petitioner means that you set the timing for the divorce. If you file for divorce before your spouse, you can choose to initiate court proceedings when it would be most beneficial for you.  

In addition, the person to file for divorce first will have more time to speak to prospective attorneys and will have the first pick of available family law attorneys in the area. 

The person who files first has usually had more time to meet with an attorney and gather evidence that will be helpful to their case, such as financial records.  

The Chance to Make the First Impression  

As the petitioner, you have the chance to control the information the court first receives about the case. This can be helpful if you are providing specific information. The person who files first has the best opportunity to make a compelling case and argue for their preferred terms.  

The First Opportunity to Ask for Temporary Orders

If you file first, asking for temporary orders from the court is your prerogative. These orders can include temporary child custody, child support, and spousal support. Of course, your spouse will have the right to ask for these orders, but their chance will not come until after they have responded to the divorce papers that they have been served.  

These orders can also include provisions that will stop your spouse from making material changes to marital assets (such as buying, selling, or transferring property). This can be very useful if you suspect that your spouse will try to hide assets from you and your legal team.  

Does One Spouse Always File First?

If you and your spouse can amicably agree on the terms of the divorce, you may be able to file for divorce as an uncontested case. In Kansas, this is called an “uncontested divorce.”

In an uncontested divorce, the petitioner files a divorce petition with the court that also outlines their agreed-upon terms for asset division, child and spousal support, child custody, etc. The court usually grants such divorces.  

Uncontested divorces may be the best option if you believe that you and your spouse will be able to work together (along with your attorneys, if desired) to come to an agreement. Uncontested divorces are usually much less lengthy and expensive than contested divorces.  

Committed and Compassionate Legal Advice

If you need guidance about how to file for divorce in Kansas, contact Jeffers Law Office, serving Overland Park and other areas of Johnson County, including Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee, Leawood, and Prairie Village. Attorney Mark Jeffers is dedicated to supporting his clients throughout the entire divorce process and fighting for the best possible settlement for them. Call Jeffers Law Office today for a free initial telephone consultation.