Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First in Massachusetts

Title: Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First in Massachusetts?


Divorce can be a challenging and emotional process for all parties involved. Among the many decisions to be made, one often overlooked aspect is who files for divorce first. In Massachusetts, the answer to this question may have consequences for both parties, but the significance can vary depending on individual circumstances. This article aims to shed light on the topic and provide answers to common questions regarding who files for divorce first in Massachusetts.

1. What is the significance of filing for divorce first in Massachusetts?

Filing for divorce first can provide certain advantages, such as having control over the timeline of the process, selecting the jurisdiction, and setting the tone for the divorce proceedings.

2. Does filing first impact the outcome of child custody disputes?

Filing first does not guarantee a favorable outcome in child custody disputes. Massachusetts courts prioritize the best interests of the child, considering factors such as parental history, living arrangements, and the child’s preferences.

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3. Can I choose the jurisdiction by filing for divorce first?

By filing for divorce first, you may have some influence over the jurisdiction. However, the court will ultimately decide the appropriate jurisdiction based on residency requirements and other factors.

4. Does filing first impact the division of assets and debts?

Filing first does not inherently impact the division of assets and debts. Massachusetts follows equitable distribution, which means assets and debts are divided fairly, not necessarily equally, based on factors such as each spouse’s contributions, financial circumstances, and needs.

5. Is there a time advantage to filing for divorce first?

Filing for divorce first may provide some control over the timeline of the process. However, the length of the divorce proceedings depends on various factors, such as the complexity of the case, cooperation between parties, and court availability.

6. Can filing first affect spousal support or alimony?

Filing first does not have a direct impact on spousal support or alimony. The court considers multiple factors, including the length of the marriage, financial contributions, and each spouse’s earning capacity when determining spousal support.

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7. Does filing first affect the cost of divorce?

Filing first does not directly affect the cost of divorce. The expenses associated with divorce vary based on factors such as attorney fees, complexity of the case, and any disputes that may arise during the process.

8. Can filing first give an advantage in negotiations?

Filing first may establish a proactive stance in negotiations. However, the outcome depends on the specific circumstances of the case and the willingness of both parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

9. What if my spouse files for divorce first?

If your spouse files for divorce first, it does not necessarily put you at a disadvantage. Both parties have equal rights and opportunities to present their case and negotiate a fair resolution.

10. Can filing first impact child support calculations?

Filing first does not directly influence child support calculations. Massachusetts uses specific guidelines to determine child support based on factors such as the parents’ income, custody arrangement, and the child’s needs.

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11. Does filing first impact the burden of proof?

Filing first does not affect the burden of proof. The burden lies with the party making a claim, requiring them to provide evidence to support their assertions during the divorce proceedings.

12. Can filing first affect the level of conflict in the divorce process?

Filing first does not determine the level of conflict in the divorce process. The level of conflict depends on the parties’ ability to communicate, their willingness to cooperate, and the issues at stake.


While filing for divorce first in Massachusetts can offer certain advantages, it does not guarantee a favorable outcome in all aspects of the divorce process. Each divorce case is unique, and the significance of filing first can vary depending on the circumstances. It is essential to seek legal advice to understand your rights, obligations, and the potential impact of filing for divorce first in your specific situation.