Deciding to end your marriage is a major decision. There are numerous factors to consider, such as the reactions of family and friends, financial matters, and your ability to support yourself, and the care of any children you have with your spouse. In some cases, you may be hesitating to file for divorce because you wonder if there is a chance the marriage can be saved. In others, you may realize the marriage is over but still feel unready to take that final, decisive step. It is important to be aware that there are certain advantages to being the first one to file and that doing so could have a significant impact on your rights in your divorce case.
Being First to File for Divorce on the Basis of Fault Grounds
In some divorces, the couple decides to split on the basis of irreconcilable differences. This can be characterized by years of slowly growing apart from one another or it may involve numerous fights and disagreements that are never resolved. In either case, the fact is that the issues between you and your spouse seem to be beyond repair. In other situations, there is something specific that happened that may have made you contemplate filing for divorce. Under the New Jersey Statutes, you may be entitled to a divorce order if your spouse engaged in any of the following types of behaviors:
- Adultery, in which you either suspect or have proof they had an affair;
- Extreme cruelty, such as in cases involving domestic violence;
- Addiction to alcohol or drugs;
- Mental illness, which required that your spouse be institutionalized for a period of two years;
- Criminal activity, which resulted in them being incarcerated for a period of 18 months or more;
- Deviant sexual conduct, which was without your consent;
- Abandonment or seperation for a period of 18 months or longer.
In these cases, you have the right to file for divorce and should consider doing so first in order to assert your claims. All of the above behaviors could influence the amount you may be entitled to in spousal support and marital property division proceedings. They could also influence any child custody arrangements that are made, as well. If you are aware of the behavior and fail to file for divorce, it could be seen as condoning the behavior and may prevent you from bringing it up in the future.
Other Benefits of Filing for Divorce First
Even if fault grounds are not an issue in your divorce case, Forbes advises that there are benefits in being the first to file. Filing for divorce before your spouse gives you the opportunity to do the following:
- Gather important documents you will need such as tax returns, titles to property, and financial statements, which your partner could attempt to alter or destroy;
- Identify marital property, before your spouse can hide these assets;
- Gain access to bank accounts and credit cards, before your partner empties them or closes the account;
- Obtain a restraining order, preventing your spouse from taking certain actions in regards to you or your children.
Filing first also gives you the chance to consult with a divorce attorney and to develop a strategy to deal with any unique issues that may be relevant in your situation.
Get Professional Legal Guidance From Our New Jersey Divorce Attorney
When considering whether or not to file for divorce, the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. provides the trusted legal guidance you need. To request a confidential consultation to discuss your options, reach out and contact our Milltown family law attorney today.