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Timing can affect a divorce outcome

For Georgia spouses that are discussing divorce, the approaching Tax Day is a reminder not only of the importance of assembling documentation of finances and other assets, but also of timeliness. Timing, in particular, is an issue which at least one member of a divorcing couple might overlook. Either spouse can initiate a divorce under Georgia law, and there may be a financial incentive for filing first.

As a practical matter, a spouse that files first may be thinking offensively, rather than defensively. The first filer will likely have copies of financial documents, such as insurance polices, account statements for securities and bank accounts, real estate records, and personal property documentation, such as vehicle registrations. Although such information is often assembled each year for federal and state tax filings, that duty may be delegated to only one member of a couple. The spouse not involved in that annual tax filing process may be at a disadvantage in locating marital assets and valuing the marital estate, in the event of divorce.

The spouse that files for divorce first may also have already planned his or her post-divorce finances. Perhaps that individual has already opened individual, rather than joint, bank accounts, credit cards and other lines of credit. He or she may also have communicated a negotiation strategy to an attorney, regarding certain property division matters.

Finally, the first filing often determines the location of the divorce proceeding. For spouses that are already separated, it can be very inconvenient to travel great distances for an out-of-state divorce proceeding. For spouses living in different states, it is also worth investigating any variances between state divorce laws. There may be strategic advantage to choosing one state over another.

Source:, "What Are The Financial And Legal Advantages Of Being First To File For Divorce?" Jeff Landers, March 26, 2013

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