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Does It Matter Who Files First in a California Divorce?

filling out legal court formsSan Marcos, 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 San Marcos family attorney 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 being 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 hore 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.
“It’s not easy to file for divorce,” says John Griffith, whose family law practice Griffith, Young & Lass regularly assists both petitioners and respondents. “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.

Meet Your Dedicated San Diego Family Attorneys
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS

Family Attorney, John N. Griffith, CFLS

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.

858-345-1720
john@gylfamilylaw.com

Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.
Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

San Diego family lawyer Catie Young has a wide range of litigation experience. She has worked in civil litigation. She has successfully represented clients in many areas of family law including child support, child custody, divorce and domestic violence. She has a unique approach to each child custody case, so clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases.

858-345-1720
catie@gylfamilylaw.com

Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.
Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Family Attorney, Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Amy Lass 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 and went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006. Amy takes a practical and cost considerate approach to the process while striving to balance the emotional needs and objectives of her clients.

858-345-1720
amy@gylfamilylaw.com

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The Typical Divorce Process in California
Discovery of Assets & Obligations (1-3 months)
1 Complaint for Divorce Filed Start of litigation
2 Complaint is Served Varies, but usually shortly after the complaint is filed
3 Answer to Complaint Due 30 days from the date of service
4 Mediation Anytime, but usually after initial discovery
5 Temporary Hearing Usually early in the process
6 Late Case Evaluation / Judicial Hosted Settlement Conference Usually near the end of the case
7 Trial (If Needed) The goal is to settle, but if your case goes to trial, it could take months after the start of litigation.
We deliver results
I am beyond grateful for the entire staff at Griffith, Young, and Lass. I don't even call myself a client anymore, they are my friends that protected my family and fought with me, side by side.-Erik H., San Diego