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Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First?

In California, all divorces are no-fault divorces. In other words, all California divorces are due to “irreconcilable differences.“ Although the person who files for divorce is called the petitioner and the other person is called the respondent, there is no overwhelming advantage in being the first to file. There may, however, be minor advantages that influence your decision.

When you file for divorce in California and serve your spouse with a copy of the petition, an automatic temporary restraining order goes into effect. If you’re concerned that your spouse will move your children to another state or mess around with your assets, it may be to your advantage to file for divorce first.

If you and your spouse live in different California counties, serving your spouse first will guarantee that the county you live in will have jurisdiction over your case. This can be more convenient for your attorney, and therefore less expensive for you. In addition, as the petitioner, you are allowed to be heard first in court proceedings and mediation, and can also have more control over court dates and other legal activities.

Because California is a community property state, the value of assets is determined by the date you and your spouse separated. If you aren’t already legally separated, filing for divorce can help to pinpoint a legal date of separation.

If you’re ready to file for divorce or have been served with divorce papers, call Griffith, Young & Lass at 858-345-1720 for a free consultation.