Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First in Illinois?

Updated on September 5, 2023
Updated: August 17, 2023

The decision to file for divorce is rarely an easy one, and there can be advantages based on one small detail – does it matter who files for divorce first? Filing for divorce first may offer strategic advantages that could produce more favorable outcomes throughout the navigation of the process. Though life is not meant to be a race, when it comes to filing for divorce, it may lead to a game of “cat-and-mouse” between two parties looking to gain control.

If you're looking to file a divorce, our experienced divorce attorneys at Tommalieh Law in Orland Park, Illinois can guide you throughout the entire legal process and make sure you understand the grounds for divorce and how to negotiate a divorce settlement.

Potential Benefits to Filing for Divorce First

The process of divorce can be challenging and daunting even in a no-fault divorce state such as Illinois. In the event of a divorce, there are two scenarios: collaborative divorce where both parties agree on all issues, or divorce mediation where a court-authorized impartial third party is required to assist in resolving conflicts between the two parties.

Whether you're on good or bad terms with your spouse, there are many advantages to getting the ball rolling and starting the divorce paperwork first. 

Filing First Can Give You Control Over the Date of Separation

It is important to consider that filing the divorce papers first gives you the ability to coordinate the timing of the divorce proceedings and set into motion a calendar of dates with court appearances for both parties.

This structure offers an advantage in planning for your own schedule or that of any family members who may be involved, such as minor children. For example, it may be preferable to manage hearings and filings of the divorce petition during the school year when kids have regular commitments.

a couple talking with an attorney about the details of their divorce

Alternately, if you have a job that has peak seasons such as tax season for accountants, then planning filing within that timeline might make sense in order to avoid or minimize any additional pressures on top of those already attributed to a divorce process.

Overall, it is important to know that taking control of filing and managing the divorce process can give one a sense of power and accomplishment in difficult times. Making an effort ahead of time to consider all potential points of relief – both emotionally and practically – may prove useful in navigating these trying times with confidence.

Selecting The Location and Venue

Filing first is key to taking control of where the divorce will take place. For those who reside in a different city, county, or state as their spouse, then being the one who files first can have many advantages.

For example, you will have greater control over what divorce attorney you can hire and that attorney will be able to attend proceedings near your home rather than having to travel long distances back and forth. This could mean significant savings in time and money that could be put toward other resources during this difficult period.

Furthermore, local experienced divorce lawyers will likely be more knowledgeable about prevailing practices in that jurisdiction which can potentially provide an upper hand in negotiations or court proceedings. All in all, those preparing for divorce should remain mindful of where and when they file for it so as to ensure that it takes place on conditions most favorable to them both legally and emotionally.

Time To Prepare

By filing first, you will have more time to prepare. Preparing for the divorce filing is a crucial step that can help protect your rights, finances, and position when contentious issues arise during the proceedings. One of the first steps prior to filing for divorce is setting up separate accounts for banking, cell phone and Wi-Fi service, and other key services that you have in common.

This will allow each party to have their respective financial independence and begin planning their life after divorce. Additionally, it’s vital to make temporary living arrangements before filing for divorce.

Ability to Request Temporary Orders for Spousal Support and Child Custody

In Illinois, if you file for divorce first, you have the ability to request temporary orders for spousal support and child custody matters. These temporary orders are issued by the court to provide stability during the divorce process and can help protect you financially or ensure visitation rights.

a divorce attorney holding two paper cut outs of a man and woman with a gavel in between

In a divorce case, the presence of a lawyer is crucial in determining the child custody arrangements and child support arrangements, regardless of the circumstances. Hiring a qualified attorney to advocate for your preferred arrangement is crucial, and filing for divorce first may provide an advantage in this situation.

If you file for divorce first, it will give you the chance to have legal representation right from the beginning of the process. The entire process is tricky in the event of divorce - including figuring out the division of assets, division of debt, and care of children - so having legal help from the start will provide a sense of assurance when dealing with the other party. Furthermore, obtaining legal representation from the start can prevent unexpected surprises throughout the process. 

Unfortunately, in many relationships, the process of separating from a spouse can quickly become very trying or even dangerous. In order to ensure safety during this time, it is important for you to have access to immediate help if necessary.

By filing for divorce first, you have the option of seeking assistance from an experienced attorney or an experienced trial judge if your spouse starts displaying threatening or violent behaviors or puts your own or your children's health and safety at risk. This can provide you with an extra layer of protection during a difficult and stressful period in your life.

Are There Disadvantages to Being the First to File for Divorce in Illinois?

Unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages to being the first person to file for divorce. When it comes to being the first to fill out the divorce form, you face more financial repercussions and more divorce costs than the other spouse.

Filing first may require paying an initial filing fee, as well as attorney's fees associated with preparing and filing the petition. Even in a collaborative divorce, where both parties agree on how they want to divide assets and settle debts, filing first can cost more upfront.

an attorney reviewing a book on divorce law

In addition, if you're the party who filed first, any delays that occur while waiting on documents or decisions from the other party will be attributed to you. This could lead to frustrations with drawn-out proceedings, possibly resulting in higher attorney's fees due to the amount of time dedicated to resolving this divorce.

It may also be a deterrent for people who would rather not go through with a divorce but feel pressured to file first because of legal deadlines and notices that need responses.

Get Help from our Skilled Divorce Lawyers Today!

Are you facing the difficult decision to file for divorce in Illinois? You may be wondering if it matters who files first. The answer is yes - it can make a difference. When it comes to filing for divorce in Illinois, there are certain tactical advantages that can be gained by being the first one to file such as getting control over the dates, timing, and place of the court proceedings, having more time to prepare, and having legal protection and legal guidance along the way.

At Tommalieh Law, our experienced family law attorneys have a thorough understanding of Illinois’ divorce laws and regulations. Our role is to assist you in navigating your divorce case and developing a strategy to protect your legal interests. Call us today for a free initial consultation to evaluate your case and give you legal advice about filing for divorce based on your specific situation.


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