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Maryland/DC Divorce Laws: Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First?

From a legal perspective, typically, it does not matter too much which spouse files first for a divorce in either Maryland or the District of Columbia. Generally speaking, there are three circumstances where filing first might make a major difference: choosing the State in which to file if the spouses live in different States and if there is a need to prevent hiding or wastage of marital assets. Otherwise, there may be some practical advantages to being the first to file for divorce. But, none of the minor advantages are large enough for either spouse to rush to the courthouse to file for divorce. If you have questions about filing for divorce in Maryland or the District of Columbia, call us here at the Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. Call for a consultation at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC. Here are a few thoughts on who files first for divorce.

Note that where physical and emotional safety is at issue, the victim should file immediately and should file first. But, in those situations, the divorce is filed because there needs to be a divorce and any advantages of filing first should have no consideration.

As noted, there are three circumstances where being the first spouse to file for divorce may be important. These are:

  • Preventing the other spouse from hiding assets – if the other spouse is threatening or engaging in hiding marital assets, this could be a solid reason for initiating the divorce; once the divorce is filed, the divorce court will have greater powers to prevent the hiding of assets
  • Preventing the wastage of marital assets – in a similar manner, if one spouse is threatening or is engaged in wasting marital assets, filing first for divorce may help stop the wastage
  • Filing in Maryland/DC if the other spouse lives in another State – if the spouses live in different States, the different States may have jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage; if that is true, being first to file will determine with of the two States has jurisdiction

In addition, there are a number of other advantages to being the first spouse to file. However, these are minor in nature and should be cause for hurry. These include:

  • The spouse who files first controls the when the divorce is actually filed
  • By being first, at trial, the filing spouse is allowed to present his/her evidence first – both spouses will be allowed to present their evidence, but there can be some minor value to going first
  • The spouse who files first may gain advantage with respect to the courthouse – if both spouses live in Maryland but live in different counties, the first spouse will control in which county the case is heard; this might have the advantage of being more convenient
  • Advance preparation – the spouse that files first may have the minor advantage of being able to more fully prepare for the divorce
  • And more

Maryland and DC Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

For more information, contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and DC divorce, family law and estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. We have the experience and expertise you need. We also have proven experience with divorce and family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC.

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