If the end of your marriage is on the horizon, you may feel like you are playing a game of chess. After all, not only must you decide when the time is right to divorce your spouse, but you also must strategize for beginning the next chapter of your life. Beating your soon-to-be ex-spouse to the courthouse, though, probably does not need to be high on your priority list.
According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, either spouse has the option of filing for the dissolution of the marriage. Even though you may not like surprises, there typically is no advantage to filing for divorce before your spouse does. Consequently, you can probably submit your filing when you are good and ready.
No additional legal rights
The petitioner is the spouse who files for divorce, while the respondent is the one who responds to the filing. While these two designations have different meanings throughout the divorce process, neither confers special or additional rights. Put simply, it probably does not matter whether you are the petitioner or the respondent.
More importantly, Minnesota takes a no-fault approach to divorce. Because of this approach, being the first person to file a divorce petition does not make you look better or worse than your spouse. Still, when it comes to your child custody arrangement, allegations of marital misconduct may become relevant.
If your spouse beats you to the courthouse, you have a limited time to respond to his or her filing. Ultimately, if for no other reason, filing first may allow you to maintain some control over your divorce schedule.