Does it Matter who Files for Divorce First
A common belief is that there is a significant advantage to the party who files first for divorce. Mostly, there are no significant advantages of filing first for divorce. The party that files first is known as the Petitioner and the other party that responds to the divorce is known as the Respondent. At trial, the Petitioner will be first to put on their evidence and testimony and the Respondent will go second. The Petitioner then has the right to respond to Respondent’s case. The ability to put on evidence and testimony first can be viewed as a slight advantage or disadvantage depending on the preference of an attorney.
Under Family Code section 2320, the jurisdictional requirement for filing for divorce is that a party must have resided in the State of California for at least six months prior to filing and have resided for at least three months in the county prior to filing for divorce. There are some situations where parties may live in different states and/or different counties which could be a factor in a party rushing to be first to file and serve their Petition for Dissolution. Under some circumstances, there is an advantage to the party that files and serves first since jurisdiction would be obtained in the area where a party resides. Where parties live in different counties or states, this could be a significant factor because a party could avoid lengthy travel to a distant court or avoid a jurisdiction that may be unfavorable on certain issues such as child custody.