Marriages can disintegrate in a variety of ways. One spouse may be unhappy for a long time, while the other may not even realize there’s a problem. In other cases, both parties may be struggling in the relationship, and the progression towards divorce seems inevitable—it’s just a matter of time.

If the end of your marriage is in clear sight, you may think it doesn’t matter whether you or your spouse pulls the plug first. However, taking the initiative to file for divorce can have some benefits. In today’s post, we examine why being the first to file can give you the upper hand in a divorce.

  • Find good legal representation. If you’re the first to file, you can take time to research your options and find the best counsel possible. If your spouse files first, however, you have 30 days from being served the divorce petition to get your affairs in order and respond.
  • Get your ducks in a row. The legal implications of a divorce are far reaching. You’ll have to gather all the requisite paperwork for your attorney—detailing your banking and investment information, pension plans, wills, bills, insurance policies, real estate—and the list goes on. Tracking down all of the relevant documentation on a deadline can be stressful.
  • Prepare for emotional distress. Most people expect a divorce to be painful. However, by dictating when a divorce happens, you can plan ahead for an emotional rocky road. Seek out a trusted support network and find a good therapist to help you through it.
  • Home turf advantage. Most divorce cases are held in the same jurisdiction where the divorce petition was filed. If you and your spouse are separated and live in different cities, filing first can get your case heard in your jurisdiction.

Going through a divorce is never pleasant. However, by taking control over how and when your divorce takes place, you can put yourself in a good position to make it through the process relatively unscathed.