Yaffa Family Law Group
By: Doreen Yaffa

Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First?


Maybe you’ve been thinking about divorce for a while, or maybe your spouse sprung the conversation upon you without you seeing it coming. For many spouses, making the decision to file for divorce can be tough. In the State of Florida, there is no legal advantage to being the one who files for divorce first. The spouse who files first will become the petitioner and the other spouse who will have to respond, is known as the respondent. Neither the petitioner nor the respondent receives preferential treatment from the judge. This doesn’t mean however that there aren’t advantages or disadvantages to being the one to file for divorce first.


In some instances, you’ve been thinking about asking for a divorce for a while and you’re just ready for your marriage to end. In other instances, you thought you were in a happy marriage and your spouse sits you down and says they want a divorce. Filing for divorce first can help you find emotional closure more quickly. Jumping into the divorce process headfirst can empower you and bring you to emotional closure no matter your situation.  The sooner you begin the process, the quicker you can begin healing.

In Florida, filing for divorce may help you protect your finances. When you file for divorce, it establishes a date of separation at which your finances and property will no longer be jointly owned from that date forward. You not only protect your property and finances, but you would also avoid taking on any of your spouse’s debt.


To begin the process and actually file for divorce you’ll need to file your petition, meaning you will need to pay the filing fee. In Florida, the filing fee is $409.00 which will need to be paid by you if you choose to file first.

Even if you and your spouse are at a good place at the time you decide to file for divorce, things may change once you file. It could lead to some hard feelings or animosity from your spouse, and these will need to be worked through as settlement and mediation meeting may take place. However, this is inevitable if you and/or your spouse reach the decision to file, the divorce will still move forward.