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Colorado Springs Family Lawyer: Does it Matter Who Files First?

Monday, 02 August 2010

blog-logoAs a Colorado Springs family lawyer, I see a lot of clients rush in to file for divorce, in an attempt to beat their spouse to the punch.  It is surprising how many people believe that the one who files first will be in a better position somehow in the long run.  This is especially common when a marriage breaks up over infidelity. 

If one is the first to file, then other dilemmas could arise; such as the decision about whether they should leave the residence.  Being the first to file often puts pressure on that person to leave the family home, and this may include leaving the children behind.  Some of my clients have asked if leaving the residence means the other party can claim desertion or abandonment. 

One thing to keep in mind when asking these questions is that Colorado is a no-fault state.  This means that even if a party in the Colorado divorce has been unfaithful during the marriage, the court cannot use that against them in determining the final divorce settlement.  Infidelity can affect the outcome in other ways, however.  If the “cheating” spouse used marital assets to purchase expensive gifts, vacations or dinners for the “other woman” or “other man,” then the other party may seek reimbursement as part of the decree of dissolution. 

 

There is no need to worry about issues of abandonment or desertion during a separation either. This only becomes a concern when a spouse fails to provide financial support or a home for his or her family.  Vacating the marital home during a divorce does not constitute abandonment in the eyes of the Colorado Springs divorce court.

In summary, filing first does not give one party any real advantage over the other.  In fact, filing second may have some financial advantages.  Many people don’t realize that the burden of preparing the order or stipulation usually falls on the attorney of the petitioner.  This is true even when both parties have their own lawyer.  However, if only the respondent has an attorney and the petitioner does not, then the respondent is expected to prepare these documents.  Most attorneys will bill two to four hours to draft the order or agreement; the cost of which will ultimately fall on that attorney’s client. 

In the state of Colorado, there is no tactical advantage for filing divorce papers first, but your attorney may advise you to do so under certain circumstances.  Before you move forward with a divorce filing in Colorado, be sure to consult with a qualified Colorado Springs family lawyer.

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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