Jacqueline Crowley, a partner in the law practice of Farkas & Crowley of West Palm Beach, Florida, discusses whether one party needs to be the first to file the divorce petition in a Florida court.
Both attorneys, Adam Farkas and Jacqueline Crowley have experience and strong legal backgrounds. Together they serve their clients, and as Jacqueline says, you are getting two lawyers for the price of one.
“I don’t want to give the impression that it is the only way to do it and that you’re really jeopardized or at risk of losing something if you’re not the first to file, but I do think being the first to file has its benefits. If you are not the first to file and you’re the respondent, you have to be served with that petition. I think for anybody, receiving service of process and being served by a processor where just like you see on TV, you’ve been served and all that, it just gives you not the greatest feeling.
It makes you defensive. Additionally, I think Florida law creates a situation that exacerbates that feeling, and that’s because when a petition for a divorce is – or dissolution of marriage is filed in the state of Florida, you need to plead in that petition anything that you may need or even if it’s in the future and you’re not actually seeking that. Let’s say, for example, you’re not seeking alimony at this point in time but there could be a situation that later you would seek that.
You need to include that in your initial filing. Even if it’s something that once the attorneys all get involved and you start working the matter out, you’re going to say, listen, I don’t actually want that. It’s just there because later, if there’s some issue that creates a situation that I need that, the law requires that it’s there.
Civilians, people that are going through the situation don’t understand that, and it creates contention. They see and read this document. It has all these demands on it. It’s like we didn’t talk about you wanting this. Why are you doing that? People don’t know, so I think, if you’re the first to file, the balls in your court from the beginning. You know what to expect. You’ve had the opportunity to speak to an attorney and be educated about the process. You don’t need to have those feelings, and you don’t, hopefully, need to create that type of contention.
At Farkas & Crowley, we really try and stress to our clients that making the divorce or the dissolution process as amicable as possible is in everybody’s best interest. The only people who win or gain from making it contentious and fighting back and forth are really the attorneys through attorney’s fees. It’s hard. It’s emotional, but it’s important to try and keep those emotions down and keep those defensive feelings down. I do think being the first to file makes that maybe easier. You know it’s coming. It’s not like a hard pill to swallow.”
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