Harrisburg Divorce Lawyer Answers the Question Whether Filing for Divorce First Gives You an Advantage
Deciding to file divorce is not an easy decision to make. Filing for divorce is the reaching the resignation point where all of the hope and dreams you held for a happy life with this person come crashing down and you cannot “take it anymore.” While filing for divorce might be the healthiest thing to do for the couple, one person has to be the emotionally stronger of the two and file a petition for divorce. The decision might be easier if the animosity between the husband and wife hits the tipping point. The question many people ask is, once as they approach that watershed moment, will I have the advantage in Pennsylvania court if I file for divorce first?
Filing the complaint for divorce before your spouse files against you no longer gives you the legal advantage it once did because of Pennsylvania’s no-fault divorce statute. Under the Commonwealth’s no-fault divorce law, the parties must show that they have reached the point in their relationship when their differences cannot be reconciled. Another name for that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marital relationship. The couple must live apart separately for two years, and only one spouse needs to sign an affidavit informing the court that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
However, there is still an advantage to be had. Filing first puts your name first on the name of the lawsuit. That means you are the plaintiff or moving party and the party served is the defendant. The judge will call on you first to state your claim typically. However, the judge allows both parties to have their say in court thereby mitigating the advantage speaking first might provide. Notwithstanding, filing first can prevent your spouse from attempting to dispose of marital assets unlawfully.
The most substantial advantage filing first can give you is psychological. Serving your spouse with papers rather than being served can give you the self-confidence you need to help you through this challenging time in your life because you are taking the reins and taking control over a situation that has seemingly spiraled out of control.
Filing first does not allow you to dictate which court in which you can bring the complaint. The complaint for divorce must be filed in the Court of Common Pleas for the county in which the couple maintained the marital home. Alternatively, the plaintiff must file the complaint for divorce in the county in which the defendant resides.
Where should you turn for more information?
Attorney Joshua Harshberger, the principal owner of the Harshberger Law Firm LLP located in Harrisburg, PA, has dedicated his career to helping people through their legal troubles. Call Attorney Harshberger today at 717-315-6997 to schedule a consultation today and learn how Attorney Harshberger’s compassion, expertise, and determination can make a difference for you.