Does it matter who files for divorce?

The decision to divorce is often the end of a long and difficult road. If you and your spouse agree on the divorce, child custody and other parts of the dissolution of your marriage, you can file jointly. In more conflicted situations, though, one of you will need to file a petition for divorce. Being the person who files that petition comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Are there advantages to filing first in Montana?

Because Montana is a no-fault divorce state, you do not need to have a reason to seek a divorce as long as you meet other criteria. Your spouse must respond to the petition of divorce within a limited number of days or the court may grant you a divorce by default. If you know that your spouse does not want a divorce, filing first could give you a chance to detail your wishes in your divorce petition and get a divorce faster than if you waited for your spouse to agree.

You will also have the ability to prepare fully for your divorce before the paperwork is filed. You will have time to find an attorney that you trust, prepare any necessary documentation and think about how you will voice your needs and your perspective. This can give you the upper hand if your divorce involves infidelity, abuse or other mistreatment.

What are the disadvantages of filing first?

While filing for divorce has many advantages, it also has disadvantages. One of the biggest disadvantages is that, if you are uncertain about divorce, making the first move can cut off your opportunity to heal your relationship. It is important that you are certain about your decision before filing.

You may pay more fees if you file for divorce first because it will fall on you to pay the filing fee. You may also have to spend more time with your attorney to prepare your petition for divorce than if your spouse filed first.

If you wonder whether filing first is a good option for you, speak to an experienced family law attorney. They can help you navigate your options and start your journey toward the next chapter in your life.