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Should I file for divorce or wait to be served?

If you and your spouse haven't gotten along well in a long time, one or both of you may be wondering whether it's time to fish or cut bait.

Once you have made the decision to pull the plug on a marriage on life-support, you have to decide whether you will be the one to file for the divorce. Read on to learn more about filing for divorce.

Filing the petition can offer strategic advantages

If you suspect that your spouse might attempt to hide or divert joint resources, filing first can catch them by surprise and prevent them from engaging in any trickery. It also gives you time to prepare. You can copy all the financial records you need, apply for credit in your name only and open a solo bank account.

If you plan to seek primary possession of the children in your divorce, filing first also allows you to make new housing arrangements for you and them if you need to do so.

Filing first means you pay the filing fees

The one who files must pay the filing fees, so if this is a consideration, you may want to let your soon-to-be ex-spouse file for divorce. But ideally, you will get your financial ducks in line prior to filing for divorce.

Remember, too, that the more points that you and your spouse agree on, the fewer that will need to be litigated in court. This is important when you want to reduce the attorneys' fees and court costs involved in a divorce.

Whoever files first shows their hand

In the petition for divorce, you detail all that you are seeking: possession of the children, the amount of spousal and/or child support, your share of the community property, etc. If you ask for too much, it can cause your spouse to dig in their heels and refuse to negotiate. Too little, and you can leave resources or assets on the table.

However, petitions can always be amended or even refiled in the event of a reconciliation, so nothing is written in stone when you first file. You and your Bellaire family law attorney can work together to devise the best strategy to serve your needs in the divorce.

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