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Does It Matter Who Files First in a Divorce in Georgia?

Our law firm’s Atlanta divorce lawyers are often asked if it makes a difference whether you file first for divorce in Georgia. The short answer is yes it can matter.

In general, there are slight strategic advantages to filing first. For example, if the case proceeds to a trial or temporary hearing, then the person who filed first gets to open (speak first) and close (speak last). But the modest advantages should not be a reason alone to file if you are on the fence about proceeding with a divorce. In other words, don’t let this be the only reason you decide to file a case for divorce. It is not the end of the world if you are the defendant or counterclaiming party, and you shouldn’t lose any sleep over it if your spouse filed before you did. If you are concerned that your spouse might move money around or try to liquidate assets, then you should strongly consider filing because Georgia law prevents such behavior and most Georgia counties have a Standing Order that issues in every divorce case which is designed to prevent such underhanded activities. Or if you fear your spouse might cut off your health insurance or try leave the United States with your children, then you may want to strongly consider filing. An example of a Court’s Standing Order is here (this is the Fulton County automatic domestic standing order).

Of course, there are times and strategic reasons to not file first in some situations. Since all cases are different, you should consult with an experienced divorce lawyer like the attorneys at Naggiar & Sarif to find out how filing first or not impacts your specific situation and what might be the best course of action for your specific situation. Please contact us to see how our Atlanta divorce lawyers can help and answer your divorce or family law questions. You can call 404-816-2004 to schedule a consultation or email us here.