Can I Work On My Divorce before Filing the Petition?

Divorce is a life-altering decision that comes with its own set of complexities. The emotional weight of this pivotal moment in your life can often cloud the practical aspects that need to be addressed. Myriad questions may arise, one of which may revolve around whether you can start the process before officially initiating it in court. This topic is not black and white and requires a dive into the legal nuances that surround it.

File first, or wait until you’ve worked out your divorce agreement?

The decision to file for divorce first or wait until you've worked out your divorce agreement is a critical one. The path you choose can have both legal and emotional implications. The best approach depends on your unique circumstances, such as the state of your marital relationship, the complexity of your financial situation, and your readiness for the legal process.

Pros of waiting to file

One of the main advantages of waiting to file until you have worked out your settlement agreement is the opportunity it presents for negotiation and compromise. It gives you and your spouse ample time to discuss and agree on critical issues like asset division, child custody, and spousal support. This could potentially lead to an uncontested divorce, which is usually less stressful, quicker, and cheaper than contested divorce.

Waiting to file can provide additional time to gather all necessary documents and information, especially if you have complex assets. You can use this time to consult with financial advisors or divorce professionals to understand the potential tax implications and other financial consequences of your divorce.

Another benefit is that it allows for emotional preparation. Divorce can be a traumatic experience. The extra time can help you and your spouse emotionally prepare for the forthcoming changes. It can also allow you to seek counseling or therapy to help cope with the emotional challenges.

Cons of waiting to file

Waiting to file until after you have fleshed out your agreement can have several drawbacks. One significant risk is that your spouse might file first. In some jurisdictions, the person who files first might have an advantage, as they'll have more time to prepare their case.

If your relationship with your spouse is contentious, waiting to file may lead to further conflicts and disagreements. It might delay the inevitable and cause additional emotional stress.

During the period you're waiting to file, your spouse could potentially dissipate marital assets, especially if they suspect a divorce is imminent. This could leave you in a financially disadvantaged position when the divorce proceedings start.

Waiting to file can keep you in a state of limbo. The uncertainty of not knowing when the divorce process will begin might add to your emotional distress and make it difficult for you to move forward with your life.

Need help working out the terms of your divorce?

Navigating the complexities of divorce can be challenging. If you need assistance in working out the terms of your divorce, consider reaching out to Hello Divorce. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to guide you through every step of the process, providing the support you need during this difficult time. 

Don't go through this alone. Contact Hello Divorce today, and let us help you transition to the next chapter of your life with confidence and peace of mind.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.