Sometimes a couple realizes that their marriage is not working and decides to file a joint petition for divorce. In other cases, one spouse may be unaware that the other is filing for divorce until he or she is served with the paperwork. But what happens if each spouse files his or her own petition for divorce?
Two simultaneous divorce cases are often started on accident. The couple may no longer be speaking to each other, or may be unaware that the other had already filed a divorce petition. If two cases are started at once, one party will need to withdraw his or her petition. Usually, the person who filed the second case will ask the judge to dismiss it, and the divorce will proceed in one court only.
Occasionally, a person who is representing himself or herself may file a separate divorce petition on purpose in order to “correct” or argue against statements made in the divorce petition filed by his or spouse. This is not allowed, and these arguments will need to be made in motions or during court hearings in the original divorce case.
Finally, simultaneous divorce cases may be possible if the spouses live in different states. For example, if a wife moves to California and files a divorce petition there, her husband may not want to attend court out of state. To prevent this, he might try to avoid service of the divorce paperwork until he can file his own case in Washington. At this point, however, it may be too little, too late.
While each state has the power to issue a divorce decree for its residents, the judicial system in general frowns on two cases in two different courts attempting to determine the same issues between the same parties. Usually when two spouses file for divorce in two different counties or states, the spouse who files first can succeed in having the other spouse’s case dismissed. Whether this is possible depends on several factors including, the time of filing, the rules for initiating dissolution in the state or county, where evidence exists that the parties will need to determine the case, and the rules of the state where filings were made regarding priority of petitions.
This can get a little confusing, but simultaneous divorce petitions are relatively easy to fix with the help of a skilled family law attorney. The lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law can help you determine the best court for your divorce case and can help correct problems with initial filings. If you are getting a divorce or need to file an action for child support, contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today by calling 590-572-3700.