WHAT IF MY SPOUSE FILES FIRST?
The filing of a divorce triggers certain financial aspects that you should be aware of if you are contemplating to file for divorce. When determining marital property, the court will consider two specific dates. The first date is the date of your marriage. The second date the court will consider is the day the action for divorce commenced. Any acquired property during these two dates, unless it falls under limited exceptions for separate property (inheritance, personal injury awards or gifts which are not comingled) will be considered marital property and subject to equitable distribution. Consequently, the day you file for divorce is important for purposes of establishing what will be determined as martial property.
Additionally, the date of filing also brings with it automatic orders and notices which will affect your conduct. Automatic orders prohibit the parties from transferring assets or canceling policies pending the outcome of the divorce.
Therefore, the answer to your question is, it might matter who files first. Once the decision to get divorced has been made, you need to ask yourself if you are worried that your spouse will cancel policies or transfer assets? Are you about to make an investment and the filing for divorce will enable you to keep the profit? Or do you just want to get through this time in your life? While legally there is no benefit or detriment to filing first, you need to ask yourself the above questions, as it might help determine if you do want to file first or wait until your spouse files.