Often, couples know that their marriage is on a downward trajectory long before they decide to end it. In many cases, neither wants to be the one to pull the plug. While the decision to file for divorce is often a highly emotional one, many divorce attorneys say that there can be significant legal and financial advantages to getting ahead of your spouse in at least taking steps to prepare for divorce and then to being the first one to file for divorce.

Legal Advantages

If you are the first to seek legal guidance, you can prevent your spouse from doing something known as "conflicting out." This is a dirty trick where people meet with the best divorce attorneys in the area for brief consultations whether they intend to hire any of them or not. Once an attorney has met with one spouse, even if they don't end up representing that person, he or she can't represent that person's husband or wife in the divorce. This strategy can seriously limit a person's legal options, particularly if they don't live in a big city.

Usually, the divorce is adjudicated in the location where the divorce filing was made. Therefore, if you and your spouse are separated and residing in different states or even counties, by filing first, you can ensure that the divorce will take place on your "home turf." This can make the process far more convenient. Further, family laws can vary significantly. Therefore, it's essential to find out which state and/or county laws are most advantageous for you.

Financial Advantages

By filing first, you have a chance to get your finances in order. If you don't already have a separate bank account and credit card, this is the time to get one. Make sure that you've got money set aside in case your spouse decides to empty the joint accounts or change the locks on the doors. Even if nothing this drastic happens, you still want to determine what the divorce and immediate life changes will cost and ensure that you have the necessary financial resources.

You also have a chance to get all of your joint financial documents in order before your spouse can change passwords, shred files or close accounts. This includes bank statements, insurance policies, tax returns and estate planning documents.

Even if your spouse doesn't do anything to try to hurt you legally or financially in the divorce, it's always wise to be as prepared as possible before you embark upon the divorce process. When you choose a divorce attorney, he or she can provide important guidance so that you're in a strong position to seek a fair settlement.