In a Utah Divorce, Does it Matter Who Files First?

filing divorce first

Utah divorce attorneys frequently see clients who are in a hurry to file a petition before their spouse has a chance to do so. Many people seem to think that filing first is essential.

But it doesn’t matter who files the initial divorce petition — the process will go on just the same, regardless of which spouse gets there first. Whether you’re the one who files or your spouse serves you with divorce papers, both roles come with their own advantages.

filing divorce first

Advantages of Filing First

If you file the initial Utah divorce petition, the court considers you to be the petitioner. Being the petitioner can be beneficial for several reasons:

  • You don’t have to scramble to select a divorce attorney in time to file a response.
  • You get to choose a convenient start time and establish deadlines for the case.
  • You have time to prepare for the financial costs of divorce.
  • You may have more of an opportunity to protect community assets.
  • You won’t have to worry about your spouse stalling the divorce.

Advantages of Being the Respondent

If your spouse serves you with divorce papers, you’re the respondent. While playing this role may not have as many obvious advantages, being the respondent can be beneficial because:

  • You have a chance to review your spouse’s requests before making decisions.
  • Your divorce attorney can build an effective strategy based on the petition.
  • You save money on filing fees and, in some cases, on service fees.

One note to keep in mind — if you’re the respondent, you need to seek out legal counsel as soon as you’re served. You only have 21 days to respond if you were served in Utah, or 30 days if you were served outside of the state. If you fail to file a response within that time, the court may grant a default judgment, giving your spouse exactly what they have requested.

Your Voice Will Be Heard

Many people want to file first, but there are no consequences to being the respondent. Both parties in a Utah divorce are equal in the eyes of the law, and both have the opportunity to present their case.

In the end, it won’t matter whether you’re the petitioner or respondent. Your Utah divorce attorney will be on your side, fighting for your rights and working to achieve the best possible outcome.

If your marriage is over and you’re ready to file for divorce, having a skilled advocate in your corner is far more important than being the first to the courthouse. With decades of expertise representing clients in Utah divorce cases, Rex B. Bushman, attorney at law, has the skill to help you navigate the complex legal system.

For expert legal advice and answers to all your questions, contact Rex B. Bushman and schedule a free Utah divorce consultation today.