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Spouses often know that their marriage is crumbling and that they are likely headed for divorce. When this is the case, you may wonder whether you should file for divorce first and if there are any advantages in doing so. The family courts will not take into consideration which spouse filed first when making decisions on child custody, property division, and more. However, there are some advantages you will gain if you are the first to file.
During a divorce, there is so much that is outside of a person’s control. By filing first, you take some of that control back. You can make arguments within the complaint about any wrongdoing done by your spouse, which leaves them with the responsibility of responding to those arguments. You can also choose which jurisdiction to file in, which is particularly advantageous if your spouse lives far away at the time of filing.
When filing for divorce first, it provides you with the necessary time to prepare, which can give you a financial advantage. Preparing for divorce involves collecting important financial documents, such as life insurance policies, banking accounts, titles to property, and more.
Another financial advantage you will gain by filing for divorce first is that you can start setting money aside or establish credit that can help throughout the divorce process. Once the divorce process begins, it is much more challenging to obtain credit, and you may even find it more difficult to obtain the financial documents you need.
Once you file for divorce, a judge will issue a standing order that prevents you and your spouse from hiding assets, going on a spending spree, or draining financial accounts. People often do this to protect property they do not want subject to the property division rules of the state.
In Illinois, property is not divided 50/50 the way many people think. Instead, Illinois follows an equitable distribution system in property division matters. This means that while marital property is divided fairly, it is not always divided equally. A judge will take a number of factors into consideration when dividing marital property. For example, if one spouse spent marital funds on an affair, the other spouse may receive more in property division hearings to compensate them for the loss of marital funds.
Marital property includes any assets or debt that was acquired by the couple during the marriage. Separate property, which includes assets and debts acquired by one spouse prior to the marriage, is not included in property division hearings.
If you are considering divorce, or you believe your spouse will soon file, our skilled Hinsdale divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio are here to help. We can help you file the complaint properly, act as your legal counsel and guide you throughout the entire process, and give you the best chance of securing a fair settlement. Call us today at 630-920-8855 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.