Does it matter who files for divorce first in Texas?

Does it matter who files for divorce first in Texas? Generally, the answer is no. In a divorce, the person filing first is called the Petitioner and the person who files second is called the Respondent. The court does not make a distinction between the two parties or favor either party based on who filed first or second. If your case goes to court, both sides will be heard, and the court will make its’ decision based upon witness testimony and physical evidence.

With that said, there are potential advantages and consequences to when and where you file before you ever see the inside of a courtroom. For instance, whoever files first has the potential to secure the venue. In other words, the person who files first designates where the issues in the divorce will be decided. (For more on the requirements for filing see divorce basics.) An example of this occurs when you and your spouse live in different counties or even different states and you file first, then your spouse, as the Respondent will have to travel to the court where you filed the divorce because that is the court of venue. Be aware, there are exceptions to venue especially if there are children of the marriage or special circumstances involving children.

Another consequence of filing first is the Petitioner may have to pay a higher court filing fee, $300.00 – $400.00 because the Petitioner is the party who is telling the court there is a divorce and that they need the court to decide what to do with the couple’s property or who should have the children and why. The other spouse (Respondent) files their response for free or for just a few dollars. The responding spouse can also countersue for divorce by filing a counterpetition for divorce which is, $50.00 -$100.00. Fees can vary but the Petitioner normally pays a higher court fee.

There are a number of advantages and consequences to filing first, but every case is different because every situation is different. You should always check with an attorney before you go forward with something that will affect you, your property rights and/or especially your children for years to come.

For an in-person no-cost consultation contact, Keesha Montoya Law, PLLC at (737) 701-4382 or visit our website and fill out the online form at www.keeshamontoyalaw.com.

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