Does It Matter If I Am The Petitioner Or The Respondent In My Divorce Case?

Divorce Case

If you are the petitioner, this means that you are the party who created and signed a “petition” for dissolution of marriage and other required documents and filed the petition and paperwork with the clerk of the courts. Your spouse, the respondent, will be notified of the action by being served or agreeing to accept service of the notice.

Generally, no, there is typically no significant legal benefit to whether you are the petitioner or the respondent. Some parties find satisfaction in being the petitioner, or “the one to file,” while others refuse to do so.  However, this is more of a psychological consideration rather than a factual or legal advantage. 

Keep in mind that if your case is presented to the court:

  • The petitioner usually presents his or her case first to the judge, an advantage called primacy.
  • The respondent usually presents last, an advantage known as recency.

However, the judge has the discretion to alter this the order of the presentations, and often will, especially where there are counterclaims filed. Regardless, the judge may not be affected by the order of presentation.

More importantly to whether you are the petitioner or the respondent is whether it is advisable in your case to file now or to wait to file.  Date of filing has an impact on many issues in your case.  However, those considerations are specific to your circumstances and should be carefully reviewed with an attorney. 

The attorneys at Nicole L. Goetz, P.L. have experience representing all types of dissolution of marriage cases, whether you are the petitioner or the respondent. Additionally, we can advise you whether you should file now or wait to file.  We can assist you throughout the entire process, from evaluation through settlement, and if necessary, through litigation of the issue.  To schedule a confidential consultation and receive more information about your options, please contact our office in Naples, Florida at 239-325-5030.

You can find us at Google Maps and Cylex.


The information provided on law and legal topics is designed for general information only and does not constitute nor should it be considered legal advice. It is not a substitute, nor should it be considered a substitute, for legal advice from a qualified attorney who is knowledgeable about your specific factual situation.

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