Not all spouses can see the writing on the wall when it comes to the dissolution of marriage. For some spouses, they are completely surprised when their partner comes to them requesting a divorce. For others, the decision is more amicable and a long time coming.
Not only are those that are blindsided by divorce more emotionally traumatized, but the spouse that files for divorce first, in most respects, has the upper hand.
Being the first to file for divorce likely indicates that a spouse has been mulling over the decision for some time. This time allows that spouse to prepare for the event of divorce. The spouse that is surprised by the announcement is left scrambling.
The spouse that files for divorce has the luxury of shopping around for a qualified divorce lawyer that will be able to provide the proper aid during the divorce. This spouse also has time to gather all the necessary documents that are needed for the proceedings. This includes everything from paperwork on insurance policies and tax returns to real estate records and vehicle registration.
This extra preparation time also allows a spouse to gain their financial footing. They could save money and even establish their own bank accounts and credit cards, so they don't have to share one with a soon-to-be ex. Surprising a partner with a divorce does not give them any heads-up so they will not be able to hide assets, which is illegal anyway.
Filing first even allows spouses to have a legal advantage, because they are the first to give their case at a divorce trial. Depending on who you talk to, this could be considered an advantage and a disadvantage.
Don't let divorce blindside you. There are steps spouses can take to prepare for divorce even before it happens. Tools like a prenuptial agreement dictate what will happen in the event of divorce, putting both sides at ease.
Source: Forbes, "What Are The Financial And Legal Advantages Of Being First To File For Divorce?" Jeff Landers, March 26, 2013