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Does it matter which spouse files for divorce first in Colorado?

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2023 | Divorce & Legal Separation |

When divorce seems inevitable, a person must grapple with many concerns about the children, housing, career adjustments and finances. Therefore, a person naturally looks for any possible advantage during proceedings.

One tactic some consider is being the first to file for divorce. Does being the petitioner in the process actually provide an advantage?

The court’s impartiality and objectivity

From a legal perspective, filing for divorce first does not technically confer an advantage. The Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act in Colorado Code 14-10-112 recognizes no-fault divorce. As a result, though one party (the petitioner) initiates the process, this does not imply wrongdoing on the respondent’s part.

Both spouses are subject to equitable distribution of assets and fair consideration of terms. The court remains impartial, focusing on the merits of the case rather than the order of filing.

While the petitioner determines the initial terms, the legal framework ensures both parties have the opportunity to respond and present their positions. Ultimately, the divorce outcome hinges on legal principles rather than the sequence of filing to reach a fair and unbiased resolution.

Possible advantages of filing first

Still, initiating the divorce process may offer strategic benefits. By starting the process, the petitioner may be able to set the tempo of the proceedings. This can influence the timeline and decision-making pace. This position may also allow for careful consideration in formulating terms before the respondent counters.

Additionally, the petitioner gains the opportunity to choose the jurisdiction. The location of the proceedings could save time and minimize personal inconvenience. The petitioner can also request temporary orders, providing immediate financial relief or safeguarding assets. In cases of abuse, filing first may permit protective measures and catch the other party off guard.

Potential disadvantages of being the petitioner

On the other hand, being the petitioner might carry certain drawbacks. Financially, the petitioner assumes filing fees, such as $230 for the Petition of the Dissolution of Marriage. Moreover, the act of filing alerts the respondent to the petitioner’s demands, potentially leading to defensive actions or attempts to undermine the filed terms.

Also, the initial burden of preparation falls on the petitioner, requiring swift and thorough organization of relevant documents and plans for living apart. In cases of domestic abuse, filing first may elevate the risk if the volatile spouse reacts negatively, so a person needs to prepare practical ways to protect oneself.

Each divorce case is unique and requires careful preparation for both parties. A person must decide for oneself whether filing first is an advantage, but in either situation, the proceedings permit an individual to present a case and push for a fair settlement.

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