Does it Matter Who Files For Divorce First in Jacksonville?

February 18, 2024by Rajat Goyal

Jacksonville, Florida has the eighth-highest 2019 divorce rate in the study (14.4%). This city ranks 17th-highest for its 1.0% increase in divorce rate from 2018-2019 and 23rd-highest for its 0.3% jump from 2014-2019. [1]

Are you considering filing for divorce in Jacksonville, but unsure if it matters who files first? This can give you an advantage when it comes to child custody, asset division, and other important decisions.


Advantages of Filing for Divorce First in Jacksonville

Filing for divorce first in Florida allows more control over the timeline of the divorce. By initiating the process, you can set the pace for how quickly or slowly the proceedings move forward. This can be advantageous if you want to resolve the divorce as quickly as possible and move on with your life.

Being the first to file for divorce in Florida allows you to choose the jurisdiction where the proceedings will take place. This can be important if you have concerns about the fairness of a particular court or if you want to ensure that the divorce is handled in a specific location.

Filing first also allows you to present your case and evidence before your spouse does. This can be an advantage in cases where there are issues of abuse, infidelity, or other contentious matters that may impact the outcome of the divorce settlement.

You may secure temporary orders for child custody, spousal support, or other important matters while the divorce is finalized when you file first. This can provide stability during a difficult time and ensure needs are met.

Advantages of Filing for Divorce First in Florida


Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First in Jacksonville

In Florida, the spouse who files for divorce first may be seen as the aggressor, and this can impact the court’s perception of them during the divorce proceedings.

The other spouse may be able to use this perception to their advantage, and they may be able to sway the court in their favor regarding issues such as child custody and asset division.

Being the first to file for divorce can also lead to increased stress and emotional strain. The spouse who files for divorce first may feel a heightened sense of responsibility and pressure, and this can take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being.

Filing for divorce first can also lead to increased legal costs. The spouse who files for divorce first may be responsible for covering the associated expenses. This can create a financial burden, especially if the other spouse decides to prolong the divorce process by contesting the filing.


Do I Have to Outline What I Want in My Divorce Petition if I File First?

When filing for divorce in Florida, you are required to submit a petition to the court that outlines your requests for things like alimony, child custody, child support, and the division of assets and liabilities. This petition serves as the initial document that starts the divorce process, remember to be as detailed as possible in outlining your wishes.

In the divorce petition, you will need to provide information about your marriage, including the date of the marriage, the names and birthdates of any children, and details about any assets and debts that you and your spouse have accumulated during the marriage.

You will also need to outline your requests for spousal support, if applicable, as well as your desired custody and visitation arrangement for any children.

The information you provide in your divorce petition will form the basis for the divorce proceedings, so be thorough and accurate in outlining your wishes. If you are unsure about the specific details to include in your divorce petition, it is a good idea to consult with our expert divorce attorney who can help you navigate the process and ensure that your petition is comprehensive and well-prepared.

Do I Have to Outline What I Want in My Divorce Petition if I File First in Florida?


What Happens After I File First for Divorce?

After filing for divorce, the other party must be formally served with the divorce papers. This typically involves hiring a process server or having the sheriff’s office deliver the documents to the other party. Once served, the other party has a specified amount of time to respond to the divorce petition. [1]

If the other party responds to the divorce petition, the next step is typically to exchange financial information and other relevant documents through a process known as discovery. This is important for determining issues such as the division of assets, spousal support, and child custody and support. [2]

If both parties can agree on these issues, the divorce can be finalized relatively quickly through a process known as an uncontested divorce. However, if there are disagreements that cannot be resolved through negotiation or mediation, the case will be set for trial in front of a judge.

During the trial, each party will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses to support their claims. The judge will then make a decision on the unresolved issues and issue a final judgment of divorce.

Once the judgment of divorce is entered, the marriage is officially terminated. At this point, any agreements reached about the division of property, alimony, child support, and custody will be enforced.


Can You File for Divorce Together in Jacksonville?

In Florida, couples have the option to file for divorce together through a process known as a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.” This allows both parties to mutually agree to the terms of the divorce and to file the necessary paperwork jointly.

This can be a much quicker and easier process than a traditional divorce, as it eliminates the need for lengthy court battles and costly legal fees.

To qualify for a simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida, both spouses must meet certain criteria. They must have no minor or dependent children, and the wife must not be pregnant.

Both parties must agree on how to divide their assets and debts, and they must both be willing to waive their right to alimony. Both spouses must also appear at the final divorce hearing to testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that they have agreed to the terms of the divorce.

Once these requirements are met, the couple can file a joint petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage with the court. This petition includes a marital settlement agreement that outlines how the couple will divide their assets and debts, as well as any other relevant issues such as the division of personal property and the payment of attorney fees.

The court will then review the petition and, if everything is in order, schedule a final hearing to grant the divorce.

Can You File for Divorce Together in Florida?


Are you considering filing for divorce in Jacksonville?

It’s natural to have questions about the process. Contact Sacks & Sacks today to schedule a consultation and get the answers you need.



What are the potential financial implications of filing for divorce first in Jacksonville?

The individual who files first may have more control over the timing of the proceedings, which could impact financial planning and asset protection. The filing party may have the opportunity to present their financial position and request temporary financial relief, such as spousal support or child support, sooner than the responding party. The financial implications can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the involvement of legal professionals.

What are the potential consequences if I do not file for divorce first in Jacksonville?

The spouse who files second may have less influence over the pace and divorce process, potentially leading to delays. As the responding party, you may have to react to the terms and conditions presented in the initial filing, which could have an impact on the overall negotiation and settlement process.

How does filing for divorce first affect the division of retirement accounts, such as pensions and 401(k) plans, in Jacksonville?

Filing for divorce first in Jacksonville and other jurisdictions may influence the division of retirement accounts like pensions and 401(k) plans. The party who files for divorce first may have some control over the initial legal and financial strategies, including addressing the division of retirement assets. By taking the lead in the filing process, they may have the opportunity to present their proposed terms for the division of retirement accounts, possibly influencing the negotiation and settlement discussions.



[1] Where Divorces Are Becoming More Common – 2021 Study – SmartAsset | SmartAsset. (2021, October 14).

[2] Bieber, C. (2023, January 3). The Divorce Process: A Step By Step Guide. Forbes Advisor.

[3] Divorce Laws in Florida: What You Need to Know – SmartAsset | SmartAsset. (2023, May 30).

Rajat Goyal

Sacks and Sacks Law
1646 Emerson St. Suite B Jacksonville, FL 32207

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