Preparing for Divorce in Florida
For most couples, one spouse does not usually decide out of the blue that they want a divorce. The decision to end the marriage usually comes after considerable thought, sometimes even counseling. However, planning and preparation is key with everything, including divorce. Where do you start? This is a question we get asked often. We have provided a bit of guidance below to help you prepare for a divorce.
Learn as much as you can before filing. Whether reading articles online or books, having a little knowledge about the laws governing family law matters in Florida and the courts can make the process a little less intimidating. From petitions to discovery to mediation and eventually trial, there are many steps you will encounter in a divorce and becoming familiar with them now will aid you in this process.
Get documents in order (personal, financial, assets, business, etc.). Even before you discuss a divorce with your spouse, you may want to start gathering documents - otherwise, you may find that some of them have disappeared as your spouse may have started collecting them. Birth certificates, marriage license, any prenuptial or separation agreements you may have drawn up with your spouse, tax returns, bank and brokerage account statements, insurance policies (life, auto, health, homeowners), leases for rental property, titles/loan statements for cars, boats, or other property owned jointly or separately, business contracts and business partnership/shareholder agreements, credit card statements.
Close off any financial ties with your spouse. You should open a different account with a different bank than your spouse uses. You should put enough money in this account to provide for you and any children during this process. However, do not move any funds that might belong to your spouse or their business.
Assess personal items of value to you. Many times, splitting up becomes contentious. Hopefully it won't get to that point, but don't take chances. You don't want to make it obvious that you are removing things from your home, but you do want to protect those things of particular value to you such as family heirlooms, photos, jewelry, or other property that was yours prior to your marriage. Take as many pictures of your personal property and furnishings.
Change access to accounts. Consider changing passwords for online access to accounts such as a bank or pension account, your email, etc. It is particularly pertinent to change email passwords if your spouse has knowledge of them. Additionally, any private or sensitive mail you anticipate to receive, should be forwarded to a different address or a secure Post Office box.
How drawn-out or stressful a divorce is often depends on how well the two spouses behave and to what extent they agree on all of the issues at hand. Some divorces become extremely acrimonious with one party (or both) becoming angry and bitter over every detail, while others are amicable. Strive to be as friendly and fair as possible, particularly if you have children as their lives will be changed and you want to make it as easy on them as possible.
Read up on how the divorce may affect your shared minor children. You will want to know everything possible about custody, child support, even alimony or the division of marital property. In addition, you will want to understand the division of debts, how a divorce will affect your taxes, and the division of marital assets or property.
Map out your future. You must start thinking now how you will provide for you and any children after the divorce. Do not quit your job if you are already employed. If you are not employed, it may be wise to start researching the job market. Additionally, it may be prudent to start researching and planning your living arrangements for the duration of and after the divorce proceedings.
Tell your spouse you would like a divorce. You must consider how your spouse will react and try to anticipate their reaction. Remember, if your spouse is unaware that you are considering divorce, it is important to understand they will probably be upset and possibly shocked when you first mention divorce. Nevertheless, if you both agree that divorce is warranted, then it is more likely future discussions will be less argumentative.
Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney. While you can find in-depth information regarding all of these issues online, it is also a good idea to consult with a skilled Central Florida family law attorney who will answer your questions and make the process as stress-free as possible. There are a variety of smaller tasks to put on your pre-divorce checklist which a lawyer can effortlessly guide you through. You may feel overwhelmed, confused, or alone during this period. An experienced divorce attorney will help you through the process and make sure you reach a satisfactory settlement in an objective, timely matter. Call us today for a free consultation at 407-872-0303 or 352-357-4084 and advice on your next steps.