I’m often confronted with a person who wants to file a divorce but is reluctant to be the “one to file.” I’ve also had plenty of people (mostly men) who claim they are in my office because, although the divorce is a joint decision, their spouse insisted that they begin the process. What most are concerned about is being “the Plaintiff.” Will they be seen in a bad light because they are the one who started the action? Will their spouse be seen as the “victim?” For some, there is guilt or failure associated with the breakdown of a marriage. Being the spouse that “gets served” sometimes takes some of the ownership off those bad feelings.
From the court’s perspective, it makes absolutely no difference who is the Plaintiff and who is the Defendant.
There is no assumption that the Plaintiff wants the divorce more than the Defendant. There is no assumption that the Defendant did something wrong. Either party can accuse the other of fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Either party can make any and all claims regarding children. Either party can make any and all claims regarding finances and property.
Not something people usually worry about but important to know:
- The Plaintiff will likely end up paying a bit more in court costs, but it is nominal;
- The Plaintiff will normally be the one to provide most of the necessary forms and proceed first at the time of the divorce; and
- Any Defendant should consider filing a counter claim so that the matter can proceed (if the Defendant wants it to proceed) in the event the action is withdrawn or not acted upon by the Plaintiff.