Carlsbad Family Law Attorneys

Does It Matter Who Files First in a California Divorce?

San Diego, CA – Should I file for divorce first, before my spouse has a chance to? You’ve probably thought about this question if you are considering filing for divorce. In California, does it matter if you file for divorce first, or if your spouse does?

“This is a question divorce attorneys hear often,” says John Griffith. “Does the court label you the bad guy if you are the first to file, or do you get to control the process more if you file first?”

The first person to file for divorce in California is known as the petitioner. If the case eventually ends up at trial, then the petitioner will put his or her case on first. However, between the filing of the initial Petition and the time the case goes to trial, many court hearings may take place requesting that the judge make temporary orders to bridge the gap between filing and trial—most of the time that gap is at least a year and even up to five years depending on the case. At these hearings, the party seeking the temporary orders files an additional request called a Request for Order or “RFO.” RFO’s can request child support, spousal support, attorney’s fees and many other forms of temporary relief. The party filing the RFO presents his or her case first at the RFO hearing. There really is not distinct advantage during the pendency of a divorce case to be the Petitioner or the Respondent.

Most legal experts believe that there is little legal advantage to who files first because California is a no-fault divorce state, so the court really doesn’t care who files the petition first. But, there are some important reasons why filing first could protect you and your family.

So, when should you file first for divorce?

Competing Jurisdictions

If you and your spouse live in different cities or different states, then the party filing and serving the Petition for divorce has the distinct advantage as to where the divorce case will be litigated. It is a huge advantage to be able to litigate a case in your home city as opposed to having to travel and present evidence far away from home. Further, you want to be able to hire a divorce lawyer that you can speak to and meet with in person. If your out of state spouse files first, then you would have to hire a divorce lawyer in the jurisdiction where he or she filed.

Danger to assets or property.

Have you heard a divorce horror story where one spouse emptied bank accounts, sold off assets, and then disappeared? It may not happen often, but it does happen. To prevent your money and assets from disappearing, it is in your best interest to file right away so your attorney can aggressively work to protect you and your future. Once a Petition for divorce has been served on the other party, Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders go into effect precluding either party from transferring or encumbering assets. These orders are essential to asset protection in cases where one spouse intends to hide marital assets in contemplation for divorce.


Says John Griffith: “The end of a marriage is always difficult, and the decision to divorce should never be made lightly. But, as soon as you realize the marriage cannot be maintained, it’s best to consult with an experienced attorney who will work hard to protect you, your children, and your assets during the divorce proceedings.”

© 2016 Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

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  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq.
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq.
  • Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq.
  • Joshua Yee, Esq.
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS

    Partner

    John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Prior to opening Griffith, Young & Lass, he worked as the managing partner of one of the largest family law firms in North County San Diego.
    John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS

    Partner

    Catie E. Young excels in child custody cases and move-away trials. She has a unique approach to child custody cases and clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases. Since joining the firm, she has continuously brought her zeal and compassion to representing clients in child custody and domestic violence cases, and in December 2011, she became a partner at Griffith, Young & Lass.
    Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS

    Partner

    Amy Lass, a certified family law specialist, was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting. Amy went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006.
    Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq. Shirin Asgari, Esq.

    Associate

    Attorney Shirin Asgari has a broad spectrum of legal experience and has handled matters in family law, criminal law, business law, and national security law. Currently, she focuses on family law matters and is a strong advocate for the rights of her clients. She dedicates time and attention to the needs of each client and the unique circumstances their case presents.
    Shirin  Asgari, Esq. Photo
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq. Eric Cowdery, Esq.

    Associate

    Eric Cowdery earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before earning his JD from Golden Gate University as part of the Honors Lawyering Program. He was admitted to the California Bar Association in 2013 and has been working diligently in the field ever since. Taking a personalized approach to each case, Eric Cowdery is committed to working with clients to help them through the often confusing and complex legal process of divorce.

    Eric  Cowdery, Esq. Photo
  • Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq. Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq.

    Associate

    Jeffrey Wittliff is extremely attentive to his cases and believes in thorough preparation and the value of regular client communication. Behind the scenes, he has an extensive background in research related to all areas of family law, propounding discovery when necessary, and negotiation to settle cases with opposing parties.
    Jeffrey  Wittliff, Esq. Photo
  • Joshua Yee, Esq. Joshua Yee, Esq.

    Associate

    Attorney Joshua Yeereceived his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, from the University of California, San Diego. Joshua went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from University of San Francisco. His experience working with a local Certified Family Law Specialist solidified his desire to become a family law attorney. Since becoming an attorney, Josh has exclusively practiced in family law.
    Joshua  Yee, Esq. Photo
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq. Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.

    Associate

    Shaudi Malekzadeh is a Carlsbad family law attorney at Griffith, Young & Lass, advocating for the rights and interests of Southern California families in a variety of family law cases, such as child custody, alimony, spousal support, and the division of community property. She is committed to delivering effective legal representation to our clients, aggressively advocating for their legal rights, and offering compassionate legal advice.
    Shaudi  Malekzadeh, Esq. Photo

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