Many wonder if being the first spouse to file for a divorce is advantageous. They may believe if they initiate a divorce, they may achieve a more favorable outcome when it comes to child custody or property division.
The fact is that whether you are the petitioner or respondent in a divorce proceeding does not have a bearing on the proceeding in terms of questions of law. After a spouse files a petition with the court, the other spouse can provide a response, which the court will consider regardless of who initiated the divorce.
That said, being the first to file may be advantageous if spouses live far apart as the venue is the typically the court where the petition is filed. It is not uncommon for spouses who have separated prior to divorce to reside in different cities or states, and as long as the petitioning spouse meets the residency requirements of a state, there is no reason they cannot file for divorce in the city or state they reside and have the other spouse meet them where they are.
In this scenario, after the other spouse has been served notice of divorce petition, the divorce proceeding will move forward as if the couple reside in the same state. However, the respondent will have to travel to the state where the petition was filed, which may involve time consuming travel, additional costs, and perhaps hiring counsel in the other city or state to represent them in the matter.
Interstate Custody Issues
In most states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) governs how child custody cases are handled when parents reside in different states. If interstate child custody is an issue, the jurisdiction resides in the state where child custody was ordered. If there is no existing child custody order, jurisdiction will be in the child’s home state, which is the state where the child has resided six months before filing a child custody action. If the child has not resided in any one state for six months, the court will identify where the child and one of the parents have a strong connection to determine where jurisdiction lies.
Contact an Experienced Divorce and Child Custody Attorney
If you are considering divorce, it is important to discuss you case with an experienced divorce attorney who can advise you on the best way to proceed depending on the unique circumstance of your case. Contact the Wisconsin family law attorneys at Probst Law Offices S.C. for help today at 414-210-3135.