Who is the plaintiff in a divorce all you need to knowIf you find yourself asking “Who is the plaintiff in a divorce?” this is the spouse who files for divorce; the other spouse is known as the respondent.

This complete guide provides detailed information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of being a plaintiff in a divorce proceeding.

If you are planning to file divorce papers, continue reading to find out the pros and cons.

What Does Plaintiff Mean in a Divorce?

The person who files a case first is always the plaintiff, and the other spouse is called the defendant. The plaintiff submits a petition to the courts since they are the ones looking for legal action.

In other words, there are usually two parties involved in the legal procedure of a marriage separation. The plaintiff is one spouse, and the defendant is the other.

– What Does Defendant Mean in a Divorce?

The defendant is the individual or entity against whom the plaintiff has brought an action. When a marriage ends and the spouses separate, the divorce process is typically started by one of the spouses. This person is called the plaintiff in the process.

They are the ones who first bring the case to the courts and apply for divorce. They are also sometimes called the “petitioner” for this reason. Then in a divorce proceeding, the other spouse takes on the role of the defendant. The plaintiff will submit divorce papers for the defendant’s signature. They are sometimes referred to as the “respondent.”

A defendant in a divorce proceeding is not the same as a defendant in a criminal proceeding. It doesn’t imply that you have done anything improper or that you are in trouble. It also does not imply that your spouse will have final say in all divorce-related matters. It simply means that your spouse initiated the divorce process by filing the initial paperwork.

– What is the Difference Between the Plaintiff and Defendant in Divorce?

The plaintiff is the spouse who files the initial paperwork for divorce, while the defendant is the other spouse who receives the divorce papers. Nearly all civil actions employ the terms plaintiff and defendant.

The person who begins the divorce process is legally known as the plaintiff. Typically, one partner will petition for divorce when a marriage ends. Not that the other spouse is unaware of what is happening — quite the contrary.

The divorce may even be mutually agreed upon at the time of filing, which is not unusual. However, the married couple must pursue the legal process to dissolve their marriage in order to obtain a divorce.

Since a Petition for Divorce must be filed in order to initiate a divorce, by submitting divorce forms, you formally request that the marriage be dissolved in front of the judge and the other spouse.

After the plaintiff applies for divorce, the defendant is the one who receives the divorce papers. The defendant is also called the respondent when responding to the divorce petition and the plaintiff is referred to as the petitioner while filing the petition.

Is It More Beneficial to Be the Plaintiff or Defendant in Divorce?

If you want to file for a contentious divorce, filing first and being the plaintiff is best. According to the law, marriage fundamentally constitutes a contract. It is usually quicker and easier to end a contract when both parties are in agreement on how to do it.

You are the plaintiff if you are the one who files for divorce. In general it is common for many people to be nervous about actually filing the paperwork to start the divorce proceeding, but there can be benefits to doing so initially. Your intended divorce strategy is one of the main determinants.

However, just like with other contracts, the procedure is slowed considerably, and you might have to go to court if at least one-party objects to even one of the terms of breaking the contract. Here are the advantages of being a plaintiff:

  • When you file for divorce, you can ask the judge to issue an order prohibiting your spouse from doing things like changing bank accounts, transferring funds out of joint accounts, changing the beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement accounts, selling or purchasing real estate, and other similar things.
  • You can select the court’s location where your divorce will be litigated, which is another advantage of filing first. Spouses must have lived in the location for at least six months before you can petition for divorce. If the defendant is not from that residency, the Complaint for Divorce may be filed in the Circuit Court of the plaintiff’s county of residence, the defendant’s county of residence, or the county where the parties lived at the time of their separation.
  • The divorce will typically culminate in a hearing before a judge if you are unable to reach an agreement during the initial stages, for instance, on how to divide your assets or child custody and child support. You get to make your case first if you’re the plaintiff. This puts both of you — your soon-to-be ex and yourself — on the “offense.” Depending on your divorce attorney’s tactics, this might be a pro or a con as it might reveal certain elements of surprise.
  • Lastly, you always have the choice to withdraw the divorce petition if you so want. You would have to be the plaintiff to drop the divorce case.

Being the plaintiff or defendant should have no impact on the judge’s judgement in your divorce decree. However, it is clear how some procedural components of being the plaintiff may give you a sense of greater control over your divorce and less vulnerability to your spouse’s whims.


– Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

The divorce proceedings will not be impacted by who files for divorce first, but the divorce plaintiff may benefit in some way as aforementioned. Many people who are going through separation may wonder whether it is better to be the plaintiff or the defendant, and the answer is that it makes no difference.

Since no-fault divorces are permitted in all US states, the plaintiff is not required to establish the defendant’s guilt.


It usually makes little difference whether you or your spouse serves the divorce summons because the court’s decision is not affected by this. Because you filed first, you are not immediately seen as the victim or the spouse who was wronged.Who is the plaintiff in a divorce who is it

  • The person who files a case first is always the plaintiff, and the other spouse is called the defendant. Filing first can offer you more time to prepare for divorce emotionally, financially, and mentally.
  • When it comes to an uncontested divorce, who files first is not as crucial, because a mutual agreement is required for the allocation of their child custody issues.
  • The costs of filing and serving your spouse will be your responsibility, but aside from some variations along the road, the court costs won’t differ significantly.
  • Some people prefer to file first since it enables them to clearly state their desires right away. To better understand their spouse’s interests, some people, however, prefer to let their partner file first.
  • Unlike the plaintiff, the defendant must be aware of the filing deadlines specified in the Statement of Claim in order to avoid missing their opportunity to complete the required paperwork.

Even in the best-case scenario, filing for divorce proceedings can be financially, physically, intellectually, and emotionally demanding. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced attorney, so read this guide to ascertain whether you want to be the plaintiff in the process or not.

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