Most people would conclude that it’s better not to be divorced at all, and rightly so. Sadly, divorce is a fact of life, and something which more and more people experience in the course of their adult lives. So it’s worth bearing in mind that, although the outcome of a divorce is ultimately the same for both parties, it can make a difference which partner makes the first move to bring the marriage to an end.
Taking control of the divorce process
On balance, the person who initiates the divorce is in a more advantageous position. They have more control over the speed and timing of proceedings, which can affect such things as plans to remarry. They are also more likely to be awarded costs. This may seem like an injustice from the point of view of the person being divorced – after all, the situation may not be of their choosing. However, it is an extension of the general legal principle that a person bringing a case will be awarded costs if they successfully prove their case in court. In more amicable divorces, couples usually agree to split the legal fees between them, so that neither party is made liable for the legal costs of the other.
Another advantage to bringing a divorce petition is that you rarely have to account for your behaviour in court. If you’re being divorced, on the other hand, you will often have to suffer the indignity of your private life being made a matter of legal record, especially if you’re being divorced for unreasonable behaviour. Although you have the right of reply, defending allegations of unreasonable behaviour can be just as traumatic as accepting them. For this reason, all good divorce solicitors will attempt to keep allegations about behaviour to the absolute minimum amount of detail needed to satisfy the court.
Does being a respondent in divorce affect children or money issues?
On the plus side, your financial and parental rights shouldn’t be affected if you’re made the subject of divorce proceedings – unless, of course, your financial or parental capabilities are cited as grounds for divorce.
In the end, divorce is never going to be easy or pleasant, no matter who goes first. In an ideal world, both partners will work with their divorce solicitor to make the settlement as fair and as unemotive as possible. In any event, if you can agree to negotiate on the petition before it is presented to the court, you can spare yourself a lot of pain in the long run. On that point, if you think that you and your partner are likely to be able to negotiate reasonably with regard to issues such as finances, you might want to consider the options of collaborative law or family mediation – our specialist family law team includes both collaborative lawyers and a jointly trained family mediator/lawyer.
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