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Does It Matter Which Spouse Files for Divorce in Illinois?

Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County family law attorneysLegally, it does not matter which spouse files for divorce in Illinois. The spouse that files for divorce is called the petitioner (or plaintiff), and the other is the defendant (or respondent.) Technically, this terminology has no impact on the outcome of a divorce. However, which spouse files for divorce can have subtle, largely subjective effects on the divorce proceedings, a few examples of which we will offer in this post. If your spouse filed for divorce or you plan to, do not hesitate to speak with a divorce attorney so that you can be better prepared to pursue a fair and sustainable outcome.

Why the Timing of Divorce Filing Could Matter

Before understanding the psychological consequences of filing for divorce, it is worth understanding how the time when a petitioner files can affect the divorce process. First, the court will most likely use the date of filing to determine the value of a couple’s assets that must be divided. If you wait too long to file, your spouse can dissipate your marital assets to try to prevent you from getting your fair share. It is possible to recover dissipated assets, but doing so is not always easy.

Also, the Illinois spousal maintenance formula uses the time of filing to calculate the duration of payments. A court will multiply the length of a marriage by other variables to determine the length of maintenance awards. Therefore, if you wait longer to file, the spouse responsible for paying alimony will have to do so for longer. Depending on which end of the relationship you are on, this may or may not benefit you.

Subjective Advantages to Filing First

It is reasonable to assume that the person filing for divorce has a psychological advantage over the respondent. If you file for divorce, your spouse may sense your determination to expedite divorce proceedings and pursue a favorable outcome. For that reason, they may be less inclined to use any underhanded tactics that can make the divorce process more costly and time-consuming. 

You could also have a psychological edge in court. Typically, the petitioner and their attorney voices their arguments to a judge before the respondent. Thus, only after your attorney explains your entire case will your spouse have the opportunity to present his or her positions.  

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

Divorce encompasses a range of disputes, and you should have the best legal assistance you can to push for a satisfactory result. At Pesce Law Group, P.C., our experienced Naperville, IL divorce attorneys can help you address spousal maintenance, child support, parental responsibilities, division of assets, and other unresolved matters in your divorce. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-352-2240 today.



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