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You Could Have Advantages If You File for Divorce First

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

If you suspect your spouse will file for divorce or are considering doing so yourself, you have an important decision to make. Should you file for divorce first? In South Dakota, where you must prove grounds to file for divorce unless your spouse and you agree to it, filing first could provide you with benefits that could affect the outcome of your divorce.

Legal and Financial Advantages of Filing for Divorce First

First of all, you should never rush to be the first to file for divorce if you believe there is hope of reconciliation with your spouse, and you want to try that. However, if you have made the decision to file a divorce, filing first could be a good choice. The following are some important benefits to filing for divorce first:

  • Setting up your legal team. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney and the rest of your team is important to the outcome of your divorce and could take time. Often this can include finding a therapist and expert witnesses. If you file first, you will have the time to pick the attorney who is right for you rather than scrambling to make a decision quickly so that the lawyer can prepare your answer to your spouse’s complaint.
  • Obtaining documents. You will have the time and ability to obtain copies of all the financial documents, such as bank statements, investment accounts, real estate documents, and retirement accounts that you will need to ensure you receive a fair property settlement. Often people deny their spouses access to accounts once a divorce is filed.
  • Having financial funds. If you even think you could be filing for divorce, you should start setting aside money to pay your attorney, think about your future financial needs, and obtain a credit card in your own name if you do not have one.
  • Preventing assets from being hidden. Sadly, some spouses will hide assets from their partners, especially in a bitter divorce or when there are a lot of assets. If you decide to file first, your attorney can help you prevent this from happening by taking proactive steps or by filing for a temporary restraining order when you file your divorce complaint.

What happens if your spouse files first? The reality is that this will not ruin your chances of obtaining a good custody arrangement for your children and a fair property settlement. If you are thinking of filing for divorce, start an online chat to schedule a free consultation with our experienced divorce attorneys.


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