We've had many clients who were blindsided when their spouse filed for divorce. Some thought their marriage was intact, while others knew their marriage had problems but didn't think they'd lead to divorce. Whatever the circumstances, divorce can be shocking.
More often than not, people know their marriage is on its last thread. If that's where your marriage stands, you may be wondering if you'd be better off legally and financially if you were the one to file for divorce first.
This is a very good question. There are legitimate reasons to be the one to file first – that is if you have the choice. Here are some important factors to take into account:
1. You can assemble your divorce team in advance.
When you assemble a good team of experts, they can help you achieve the best possible outcome. You'll need an excellent attorney and if you have a financially complex divorce, you're going to need a qualified divorce financial analyst.
2. You can gather all of the important documentation.
It is vital that you gather copies of all of the relevant financial documents, including: bank and brokerage statements, insurance policies, tax returns, wills and trusts, real estate documents, vehicle registrations, and retirement account statements.
Locating these documents takes time and considerable effort, especially if your spouse controls the money or is secretive about finances. By filing first, you can have all of the documentation organized and in a secure location before divorce papers are filed.
3. You can ensure that you have cash and credit.
Once divorce is on the horizon, you should set aside money for the expenses involved. Make sure you have enough funds to hire a divorce team. If you don't have a credit card in your own name, get one as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could be harder to get later on.