Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First in New York?

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In marital discord, a couple may decide it’s best to go their separate ways. Navigating the divorce process can feel daunting, as every case presents unique challenges. However, one common question that typically arises is whether it makes a difference as to who files for divorce first. While no inherent rights are afforded to the first filer, certain advantages come with being the spouse to commence divorce proceedings. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to understand that the decision to file for divorce is heavy. As such, it’s in your best interest to enlist the help of a trusted Suffolk County Divorce & Separation Attorney who can help you make informed decisions and guide you through your legal options. Please continue reading to learn about the potential benefits of filing for divorce first in New York. 

What Are the Potential Advantages of Being the First to File for Divorce in New York?

To initiate a divorce in New York, one spouse must file a divorce petition with the court. It’s crucial to note that both spouses can file for divorce jointly. Nevertheless, the filing spouse is often called the “petitioner,” and the non-filing spouse is the “respondent.” If a divorce is imminent, it’s essential to consider the potential strategic advantages filing for divorce first can bring to the table:

  • Court location: If you and your spouse currently live in different jurisdictions, the petitioner can choose where divorce proceedings will take place. If your spouse lives far away and files first, you must travel to your spouse’s jurisdiction for all divorce-related matters. This will cost you valuable time and money compared to filing first in the court nearest to you.
  • Pace of the divorce. If you file for divorce first, you will have more control over how quickly the divorce progresses. Essentially, by filing first, you “start the clock.” Your spouse will have no choice but to respond to the divorce complaint according to the court’s timeline. While your spouse is working on their response, you can work with an experienced attorney on your next phase of the divorce process.
  • First impression. The initial divorce paperwork will provide the court with the grounds for the divorce. The allegations made in the petition will be the first piece of information about the case that the court is given.
  • First opportunity to request temporary orders. The petitioner can ask the court for temporary orders before notifying their spouse of the initial divorce filing. These orders can limit what each party does with marital funds, protect one party from the other, award temporary child custody, or grant temporary child or spousal support. The non-filing spouse will not have the opportunity to request temporary orders until they have filed their response to the divorce petition.

As you can see, there are some strategic advantages to filing for divorce first in New York. If a divorce is imminent, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined attorney from The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C., who can effectively represent your interests.



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What Our Clients Are Saying

I hired Susan to represent me in a divorce matter where I was fighting for custody and to limit my wife's equitable share of our assets. I won custody of our son, kept the marital residence, kept my professional practice, kept my building and paid less than half to my wife. This was after a long-term marriage. She could persuade the court that equitable is not equal and sometimes the man does deserve to win!

‐ Dave

I first must say that I had been represented by two prior attorneys both of whom had simply taken my money and left me nothing to show for it in my custody case. They kept telling me what they were doing for me but I found out they were lying. Susan on the other hand had gotten me temporary custody and support for my children and myself within two months of hiring her. I cannot say enough about her.

‐ Craig

After talking to a few other attorneys, I hired Susan to represent me in my divorce and custody dispute. I was reluctant to go with her because she was the cheapest out of all the other attorneys I met with, but I'm so glad I did. I am 100% positive no one else would have done such a great job with my case as Susan and her staff. Her work is quality, her staff is reliable and her character is honorable. There...

‐ Linda

I had a very difficult case where I had already burned through two attorneys who were unable to get me custody of my children and complete my divorce. Susan was able to rapidly work out an agreement and not let it just malinger on like my previous experiences. She was also considerate of my financial situation unlike all of the other lawyers I had spoken to. I highly recommend her if you want complete and caring service with an in-depth knowledge of...

‐ Joanne


The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. proudly serves clients throughout Suffolk County, New York in their divorce, family law, and estate planning matters. If you require the services of an experienced Suffolk County attorney, schedule a consultation with The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. today.

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