Does it Matter Who Files For Divorce First in Oakland County? (Pt 1)

A view of a race track, showing that filing for divorce is sometimes treated as a race to be "first"
Divorce isn’t a race. If you feel the need to file first, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons!

If we got a dollar every time someone called us in a panic, rushing to file for divorce first because they want to beat their spouse to the courthouse, we could probably all retire comfortably right now. Seriously, it happens a LOT. Some people seem to believe that filing first is going to make a huge difference to their Oakland County divorce plans – and don’t misunderstand us, sometimes it really does matter. 

However, there are just as many times when it makes no difference. So we thought we’d take a minute and explain the difference for those of you who are considering divorce, and feel pressured to be the one to file in case your spouse beats you to the punch. As always, every case should be professionally evaluated before any decision is made. Strategy planning usually leads to better results. Making quick, uneducated decisions usually ends with bad results. An experienced family law attorney should be able to guide you through this process and will understand things you’ve never even thought of. Our family courts here in Oakland County are no place for amateurs trying to navigate this complex system. It’s full of pitfalls.  

Sometimes part of the issue has to do with specific words.

When you file for divorce, the court papers list you as the ‘plaintiff’ and your spouse as the ‘defendant’. And that’s part of the issue. Think about the word ‘defendant’ – what kind of images does it bring to mind? Orange jumpsuits? Handcuffs? Yup, we thought so. That’s because the word defendant is also used as the label for the alleged criminal in a trial. In other words, “the bad guy.”

No one wants to look like the “bad guy” in a divorce. In a civil case like a divorce case, the defendant is the one getting sued. Some people are so worried that not filing first will make them look like a “bad guy” (after all, surely it’s the good guy who tries to get away from the bad guy, not the other way around, right?). But the truth is, that’s just legal terminology. The judges in the Oakland County Family Court don’t think badly about you because your spouse filed first, we promise! No one assigns “guilt” based on who filed first. So relax – if your concerns are based on appearances, you don’t need to worry.

Don’t make empty threats about divorce – mean what you say!

One thing we think is very important and definitely worth mentioning is the issue of empty threats. Some people use the threat of divorce as a way of trying to force their spouse’s hand

“If you don’t stop acting like that I’m going to file for divorce.” 

“If you don’t change those behaviors I’m leaving you!”

Filing for divorce just to “scare” your spouse into doing what you want, or making the changes you want, usually backfires. Sometimes your spouse realizes that a divorce is exactly what they need and they run with it. And even if it gets you what you want in the end, and they come begging you not to leave, you still have to pay your attorney for the work they did. So there’s a price to pay either way. Our judges in the Oakland County Family Court take divorces very seriously. You should too. 

If you’re ready to end your marriage, or maybe you just want to talk about it..

Deciding you want to end your marriage is a big decision. So if you’ve already decided that a divorce is right for you, or if you want to explore options and you don’t want to wait any longer, call The Kronzek Firm at (248) 479-6200 and get the help you need from the attorneys who can make a difference. We’re available 24/7, because we understand that sometimes life throws you a curveball and you need to be prepared to react quickly. We’ve helped thousands of clients over the decades and we can strategically help you too. 

Whether you need help with divorce, legal separation, alimony, spousal support, child support, custody, or visitation, we can help. Our skilled and experienced family law attorneys have been helping people from Troy, Novi, Royal Oak and Birmingham for decades, and getting great results. When you have questions, we have answers. Our Oakland County office is conveniently located in Farmington Hills on Northwestern Highway.