By Robert L. Mues   |   January 30th, 2021

Why should I file first in a Divorce Complaint? Here are the reasons.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This blog on filing a divorce complaint is as meaningful today as it was when we originally posted it on December 16, 2019. The importance of meeting with an experienced divorce lawyer in your area to evaluate when and where to file cannot be overstated! We have a ton of interesting articles in our archives of the Ohio Family Law Blog. Use our Search tool and enjoy a few oldie but goodies!

Several Strategic Reasons Why Filing Of The Divorce Complaint FIRST, Makes Prudent Sense

filing of the divorce complaint retraining ordersUnfortunately, you have concluded that your marriage needs to come to an end. Now it is time to put on your “business hat” and plan how to accomplish that result. When feasible, a dissolution proceeding is the best vehicle to accomplish the termination of an Ohio marriage. However that approach takes a full agreement in advance of filing by both parties on ALL issues and obviously cooperation. Let’s discuss how to proceed if that isn’t in the cards.


There are some reasons to consider being the first to file the complaint for divorce in Ohio.

To file for divorce in Ohio, you or your spouse has to have been a resident of the state of Ohio for no less than six months and of the county of filing for 90 days. If you submit your petition first, you can file either in the county where you live or the county where your spouse lives. While Ohio law of course applies to all divorce courts in the State, courts vary in their practice and approaches. One jurisdiction or the other may carry advantages for your specific situation depending on spousal support and custody issues. In addition, some Court dockets are quicker than others. Schedule an appointment with an experienced divorce lawyer to plan ahead as to the best strategy for your issues and case!

Preparation Time.

Figuring out your best “exit strategy” is smart. Making the move on YOUR timeline allows you time to become organized, gather necessary funds, obtain needed copies of bank statements etc. In addition, this allows you time to research and interview experienced divorce lawyers in your geographical area at your pace rather than being “under the gun” to do that quickly once served with a complaint for divorce.

Are Restraining Orders Needed?

Filing sooner than later can be very important for several reasons. Are you worried that your spouse may be moving, spending or hiding marital assets?  Obtaining restraining orders can help to essentially “freeze” the status quo preventing dissipation of financial assets.  In addition, if there have been threats or domestic violence, restraining orders can be a deterrent to further abusive conduct. So, passively waiting for your spouse to “take the first step” and initiate the filing of the divorce complaint may be an unwise decision.

Reduced Financial Exposure.

Typically, the filing of the complaint for divorce will set a date that the Court will look at when dividing marital debts. So, if you believe that your spouse intends to run up more debt or make some large purchases in the future (which you oppose), getting the divorce complaint filed is wise. In Ohio, the law permits Judges to determine the most appropriate date to divide assets and debts. That can be at the date of filing the divorce complaint, date of separation or date of final hearing (or another more equitable date). The filing of the divorce complaint will allow your lawyer to argue that debts should be separated upon the filing of the divorce.  Further, if you are the financially advantaged spouse, your exposure for paying alimony grows longer based on the length of the marriage.

Emotional Component:

In addition to these possible advantages, many people find emotional comfort in the process of filing for divorce. Be smart. Taking steps to end your emotional pain and preserving one’s health cannot be ignored. Taking that first step often empowers the individual to start down the path towards happiness and health.


This is not an all-inclusive list of why going ahead and filing first for a divorce first might be the most prudent course of conduct. I have hoped by this article, to simply share some of the many strategic reasons to consider. Each divorce complaint case is different. The importance of meeting with an experienced divorce lawyer in your area to evaluate when and where to file cannot be overstated!

If you are in the Montgomery, Greene or Warren county region of Ohio, and want to discuss your divorce related issues, please feel free to call us at (937) 293-2141 or click the button below to schedule a consultation.

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About The Author: Robert L. Mues
Attorney Robert "Chip" Mues has been focusing his legal practice throughout Southwest Ohio primarily in divorce and family law matters since 1978. Chip is passionate about family law and has proudly published the Ohio Family Law Blog since 2007. In addition, he is the managing partner of Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues. To learn more about him or the law firm, visit the firm's website at Appointments are available in person, over the phone or by Zoom. Call us at 937 293-2141.

Blast From The Past: Are There Advantages to Filing First for a Divorce in Ohio?

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