There are many popularly held beliefs concerning divorce that are hard for attorneys to dispel. They seem to just take on a life of their own, even when they lack any basis.
One such belief is that it is somehow advantageous or superior to be the spouse who files first.
Over time, I have learned and confirmed many times over that this belief is widespread in Florida, New York and New Jersey.
Now I can add Ohio to that list, and probably have adequate reason to leap to the conclusion that this old wives’ tale shapes many people’s divorce perspectives across all fifty states – and beyond.
But really, it just ain’t so … almost always.
There is one meaningful exception: where one spouse is secretly planning and preparing for divorce, very actively up to no good for quite a while, and the other spouse is utterly stunned with shock and caught completely unprepared when they are served totally out of the blue.
This does happen from time to time.
But it shouldn’t. There were telltale signs. Little red flags. If not far more to go on.
Almost always, the spouse who was stunned, buried their head in the sand, hoping against hope that it wasn’t so, desperately clinging to their fantasy marriage, refusing to face reality.
Similarly, the spouse who is so totally unprepared for divorce is equally unprepared for their spouse’s sudden death … or accident / illness / disability. Unfortunately, such tragedies strike all the time.
If the spouse who filed first has an advantage in their divorce, in truth it derives not from being the first to file but rather from their spouse living life imitating an ostrich and/or flying by the seat of their pants on a wing and a prayer.
If that describes you, that should be your concern, not just being the first to file.
Read more in this Columbus [OH] dispatch advice column: Wholly Matrimony: Filing first for divorce offers no advantage