The party filing first is the plaintiff and the responding spouse is the defendant. To a judge, it essentially makes no difference who was the first to file; plaintiffs and defendants are interchangeable when it comes to the decisions to be made by the judge.
There are some procedural differences, however. The first to file is subject to the Notice of Automatic Orders upon filing, and that Notice is binding on defendant when he or she is served or admits service of the initial papers.
Another procedural difference is that plaintiff’s attorney prepares the documents to complete the divorce, the Judgment Roll, with defendant’s attorney preparing the agreement resolving the issues, the Separation Agreement.
Finally, if there is a trial, plaintiff generally goes first, followed by defendant.
Ultimately, aside from the procedural aspects, it generally does not matter who files for divorce first to a court. On other hand, it may have emotional aspects due to the situation of the divorcing couple, and sometimes these aspects will guide who files first. We can talk about whether it might be best to move forward right away or wait, so please give me a call.