Many of my potential clients are concerned with filing first in their divorce
case. Many of them have the impression that if they are not the first
to file they will be at a disadvantage in their case. However that is
generally not the case when both spouses are represented by
divorce lawyers. As a
Houston Divorce Lawyer, I will discuss what importance filing first has in a
Texas Divorce Case.
The Petitioner in a Divorce Case
The first to file in a
Texas Divorce is known as the Petitioner. Here are the ways in which being the Petitioner matter:
Choosing Which County to File In
divorce cases there is not an option on where to file a
divorce. However, in some situations, there may be a choice. A
divorce may be filed in the county where either spouse is a resident as long as
residence requirements have been met. If the spouses live in different
county’s there may be a choice on where to file.
In such as case the spouses may want to rush to file for divorce first
in order to ensure the courthouse in which the
divorce is filed will be geographically convenient to them. I have had cases in
which my clients were saved considerable time and money by filing first.
This was because their ex was either having to drive 4 hours every time
there was a court hearing or flying from out of state.
Payment of Initial Filing Fee
The spouse who files first (The Petitioner) also pays the initial filing
fee. Generally, the initial filing fee is $300 to $400.
The other spouse (respondent) can file their response an answer which is
free to a few dollar. The responding spouse can also countersue for
divorce by filing a counterpetition for
divorce this counterpetition is $50-$100. Either way the spouse who files generally
pays more in filing fees.
Setting the Tone of the Divorce
Whoever files first sets the tone of the
divorce by deciding whether to plead fault or no fault in the divorce. However,
this can change, because pleadings can be amended and changed by either party.
Many, times clients have fault grounds but want to try and resolves things
amicably at least at first. So often times we will see if we can resolve
things in mediation. If we are unable to we will reevaluate afterwards
whether to amend the pleadings and plead for fault.
Going First at Trial or other Hearings
divorce case ends up in a trial the Petitioner will get to go first in the courtroom. Most
family law cases do not go to trial, this procedural fact can have an impact on trial strategy.
However, it is not uncommon for a case to have a
Temporary Orders hearing and in such a hearing the Petitioner would get to go first.
Timing and Relief Requested
As discussed above
Temporary Orders are not uncommon when a person files for divorce, that person can request a Temporary Orders Hearing in the Original Petition for Divorce. The purpose of the
Temporary Orders is to put some orders in place on how the parties will behave during the
The Judge is going to make orders that will remain in place during the
divorce. These orders will include will say what
visitation will be with the children, conservatorship of the children,
child support, who gets to remain in the marital residence while the divorce is going
on, temporary spousal support, and who will be responsible for certain bills.
By filing for
divorce first this may give you an advantage when comes to issues at the
Temporary Orders hearing. This is because you and your
divorce attorney will likely have more time to prepare for this hearing than your spouse
Help Prevent Assets from being Hid
divorce is filed there are no orders saying what you or your spouse can do. When
you file first this may also prevent your spouse from hiding assets. This
is because when you file first you can ask for a Temporary Restraining
Order (TRO) an order that prohibits this type of behavior.
The TRO is binding on your spouse and may help prevent against this type
of underhanded behavior.
What if you are unable to file first?
If you are unable to file first, you should not worry. As a responding
spouse you can still participate the divorce process. You will have opportunity
to file an answer and counterpetitioner with the Court.
If you want to know more about what you can do,
CLICK the button below to get your
“16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children
and families. If you have questions regarding
divorce, it's important to speak with one of our
SpringDivorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and
developing a strategy to meet those goals.
Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online
form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles
Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein,
The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including
Fort Bend County and