Generally, one spouse files a petition to the court to start the divorce process. This spouse is the petitioner, while the other is the respondent.
When there is no reconciling a relationship, the spouse who should file for divorce first is the one who wants the following advantages.
Choose the court location
The petitioner usually gets to pick the location where the divorce proceedings occur. However, there are local residency requirements to prevent the petitioner from intentionally filing in a place that would favor them over the other spouse.
For example, they may have had to live in that state for six months and the county where they filed for ten days before filing for divorce there. This is particularly important if people are undertaking a divorce with children and want to keep them stationary or if one spouse wants to avoid the costs of traveling to the proceedings.
Control the speed of the process
The spouse who files first gets to control how fast or slow the divorce progresses. For instance, the petitioner can decide when to start the process, but their spouse has to respond based on the court-established timeline. The petitioner also has the time to plan their next steps while the responder is formulating a response.
One way individuals can avoid the decision of whether to file for divorce first or not is to opt for an uncontested divorce. In this, spouses meet with a mediator to discuss the terms of their divorce. At the end of this mediation process, the divorcing couple has a written agreement to present to the court and receive their uncontested divorce.