If you and your spouse have made the decision to end your marriage, are you wondering which of you should lead off in filing for divorce? 

Many couples ask this question, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to being the first to file. 

Getting organized

As the spouse who files initially for divorce, you have the time to gather the important financial and legal documents you will need. You can also organize your legal team, which may include an accountant, an appraiser and other outside professionals. You can obtain legal guidance in advance and be more emotionally prepared for divorce. 

Setting the tone

The spouse who files first sets the tone for the proceedings. If you wish to have an amicable, uncontested divorce, there is a greater chance of making that happen when you are first to file.  You also have the opportunity to set the first hearing date. If need be, you can petition the court to prevent your soon-to-be-ex from selling or otherwise protecting marital assets. In addition, if you have child custody concerns, you can file a motion to prevent the other parent from taking your child out of state. 

Going second

If your spouse files first, your filing fees for the required response will be less than what he or she will pay to initiate the divorce. Keep in mind that in going second during hearings and trials, you have the opportunity to respond to the arguments put forth by your spouse. Nevertheless, remember that whatever you decide about the filing sequence, your circumstances, and the goals you set for yourself will chart the course for your representation in the divorce action.