Does it Matter Who Files Divorce Papers First?


If your marriage is on the rocks, you might be wondering if it's best to be the one who files for divorce in Pasadena or if you should wait until your partner files papers.

From a purely legal standpoint, it does not matter who initiates the divorce. The law treats both spouses equally. However, if you suspect your partner might be planning to file for divorce, it's not a bad idea to start investigating your options for legal representation. Even if you don't file the papers, you'll need a lawyer to represent you in the case. You can't have the same lawyer as your ex due to the conflict of interest.

Other steps that are recommended if you think your partner will be filing for divorce include:

  • Gathering financial information, including tax returns, bank statements, mortgage papers, and credit card bills. This is especially important if you're not normally the one handling your marital finances.
  • Preparing an after divorce budget. It is hard to live on one income in a world that seems designed for a two income family. Make the most of a tough situation by thinking about what expenses you can cut.
  • Establishing credit that is in your name only. Having your own credit history is very important if you need to move or take out a loan for expenses.
  • Be on your best behavior at all times. Don't give your spouse any ammunition to use during a divorce proceeding, especially if you have children together and anticipate a custody battle.

Unless you're in an abusive relationship, the one thing you shouldn't do if you suspect your spouse is planning to file for divorce is move out of the marital home. If your name is on the lease or mortgage, you have a legal right to remain on the property. Moving out is a particularly bad idea if you have a mortgage on the property and want to preserve your rights to the asset in settlement negotiations.

How Can We Help?

If you have questions about filing for divorce, please contact our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our experienced Pasadena family law lawyers can advocate for your best interests throughout the divorce process.