You’ve tried to work out your marriage but it doesn’t seem to work and you are wondering if you should file the divorce papers first. Filing your divorce first typically has no significant benefits. (There may be some exceptions, such as when, for example, the immigration status of one party is a significant factor.)
Yet, the planning process and financial preparedness might give you an advantage over the defendant.
After several unsuccessful reconciliation attempts, one of you must make the bold step and start a divorce process.
While your submissions will not get favoritism because they came first, the divorce court will hear your evidence first if the case proceeds to trial.
You should have a divorce attorney to guide you, especially if there are custody or financial issues. This article discusses whether filing a divorce first in Virginia is right and has some advantages in litigation.
Helps Set the Pace
Initiating your divorce process first in court gives you some control over the litigation timing and settlement. In most cases, the defendant may not have known that you’re heading for divorce hence denying them sufficient prep time.
When you start the divorce process with a proposed separation and property settlement agreement, it clearly tells the defendant that you want an amicable and fast settlement. It’s also another way of telling the spouse that you’re willing to negotiate but want the process handled by the legal system.
With a cooperative spouse, the process shouldn’t lead to a trial. You and your spouse can settle the matter amicably with the assistance of excellent divorce lawyers.
An Extra Chance to Present Your Case
If you are in a tussle over finances, assets, or child custody, the litigation proceeds to trial. Though the judge will listen to both the petitioner and the respondent, you’ll be the first to present your evidence and make an impact on the judge.
Being the first to present the case opens up an opportunity to argue against the respondent’s case before the respondent presents evidence. You also get a chance to diminish the effectiveness of the respondent’s witnesses.
But how do you present a solid case on why you should get certain benefits and have the divorce favor you? Speaking to a family attorney before the divorce filing is instrumental.
You’ll learn your rights, available options on the table and get ideas on how the custody and support issues should be handled.
Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Attorney Before Filing
Some spouses may look for reasons to blame you or start hiding assets when it comes to divorce. You don’t want to lose important properties or allow the spouse to take advantage of you in court.
Here are ways that attorneys help you take proactive steps when filing a divorce:
What is the basis of your divorce according to the complaint? If false information like abandonment or adultery is provided and not refuted with facts, you might lose important assets or child custody.
Your attorney will do the necessary research and investigation, and protect your interests against any false claims made by your spouse during the divorce process.
Gathering sensitive information like bank statements, assets, amount of debts or household income can be difficult. However, attorneys have the knowledge and experience in collecting this information.
Prevent Wealth Waste
Has your spouse realized you’re about to file for divorce and doesn’t want you to have anything? Such spouses start hiding or disposing of valuable assets without your knowledge. Don’t wait for it to happen to start blocking them.
Working with a reputable and skilled family attorney will help you protect all the available resources. Besides, they’ll protect what you rightfully own as a marital asset.
Common Divorce Misconceptions in Virginia
Filing and seeing through the divorce process can be both emotionally draining and overwhelming. It’s alright to worry about what will happen once the process starts, but it shouldn’t worry you that much.
Here are great misconceptions that the divorce process brings out in Virginia:
Divorce Finalization Takes Time
If you’re filing an uncontested divorce and your spouse is cooperating, your divorce can be finalized in a few weeks.
When you file a divorce, your separation period starts counting after one of you moves out of the home. (However, Virginia law also does provide for separation within the same home if the parties are living completely separate lives.) Also, one of you must remain in Virginia for at least six months from the start of the separation.
Home Ownership Rights
Spouses have the same right to their home during a separation period, since separation doesn’t abolish homeownership rights. Considering that a home is a major investment, the issue of home ownership is usually addressed in the separation and property settlement agreement. If the parties cannot agree on which spouse will keep the home or whether the home will be sold, a judge will have to make that determination based on the evidence presented by both sides.
The related matter of whether the parties’ children will stay in the marital home or leave the home is another difficult issue, both during the separation period and after the divorce is final. Discuss these issues with your attorney and understand the implications of leaving before filing for the divorce. Remember, you’ll need to share most properties and other assets in court.
We can Share the Lawyer
The belief that you can both share the same lawyer to cut costs is misplaced. Both parties require equal representation, and this can only come from individual attorneys. This way, everyone will have their rights protected and minimize conflict of interests.
We Must Go to Court to Finalize the Divorce
Not all divorce matters must end in a court hearing, as some people believe. If your spouse has no selfish interest and has agreed to share properties, debts, and other materials amicably, lawyers can help you finalize the process.
Your family law attorney will guide you through the process and see to it that your rights have been protected. It’s only when parties cannot reach an agreement that a trial should take place.
Need a Competent Divorce Attorney in Virginia?
Looking for a divorce attorney near you? Here at the Law Office of Michael Ephraim, we’re dedicated to providing amicable divorce processes in Virginia.
We expedite all our divorce cases and deliver impressive solutions efficiently. Contact us today for a swift uncontested divorce experience.