Things to Do before You File for Divorce in Florida
- Preparing to file for divorce in Florida
- Evaluating your situation
- Gathering financial information
- Assessing your immediate needs
- Crafting a divorce strategy
Divorce, while personal, is also a legal process with many important steps to consider. By understanding what to expect and preparing ahead of time, you can mitigate potential challenges
Preparing to file for divorce in Florida
Embarking on a divorce requires both emotional and legal preparedness. In Florida, there are specific steps to follow that can help streamline the process.
First, it's important to gather all necessary documents, such as financial statements, property deeds, and any prenuptial agreements. It's also recommended to have a clear understanding of your current financial situation, including assets, debts, income, and expenses.
Evaluating your personal situation
Before filing for divorce, it's crucial to take a hard, honest look at your personal situation. Let's break it down into three main areas: finances, career, and living arrangements.
Understand your current economic circumstances. This includes assessing your income, expenses, assets, and debts. You should have a clear picture of joint and individual bank accounts, retirement funds, investments, and any outstanding liabilities.
Consider how your divorce may impact your professional life. Will you need to increase your working hours or seek a higher-paying job to maintain your financial independence? Do you need additional education or training for better job opportunities? These are important considerations as you plan for life post-divorce.
Think about where you'll live during and after the divorce. Will one of you keep the family home, or will it be sold? If you're considering moving, factor in the cost of rent or a new mortgage. Also think about the potential impact on any minor children involved.
Florida’s residency requirements
The state of Florida must have jurisdiction over your divorce, and in order for this to be legally possible, you must meet the state's residency requirements. One spouse (or both) must have been a resident of the state for no less than six months prior to filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This means you or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least half a year before initiating the divorce process.
While this might seem straightforward, it's important to understand what constitutes residency. Generally, a person is considered a resident if they have maintained a permanent home in Florida. This could be proven through various means such as a Florida driver’s license, voter registration card, or a sworn affidavit from a third party.
Gathering your financial information
When preparing for divorce, understanding your financial situation is critical. Here's a detailed look at the key areas you should focus on:
This includes not only your regular salary or wages but also any other financial resources: bonuses, commissions, rental income, dividends, and alimony or child support from a previous marriage are some examples. If you own a business, income from that should also be considered.
Make a list of your monthly expenses. This includes mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, car payments, insurance premiums, childcare costs, and any other regular payments. Don't forget to include occasional expenses like vacations or home repairs.
If you have joint bank accounts or investments with your spouse, you'll need to take those into account. This can be a complex area of divorce, especially if one spouse has contributed more than the other or if the value of your investments has changed over time.
Once you have gathered this information, you'll need to share it with your spouse. This is part of the process known as financial disclosure.
In Florida, both spouses are required to provide a full and accurate accounting of their finances during a divorce. This includes income, assets, debts, and expenses.
Financial disclosures are important because they ensure transparency and fairness in property division and the determination of alimony and child support. Failure to provide accurate disclosures can lead to penalties and could negatively impact your divorce settlement.
Assessing your immediate needs
As you prepare for divorce, it's crucial to address your immediate needs, especially regarding safety and stability. Here are some key aspects to consider:
If there are any concerns about your physical safety or the safety of your children due to domestic violence or abuse, take immediate action. This can include contacting law enforcement, seeking shelter with family or friends, or reaching out to a local domestic violence organization.
In many divorce cases, it's necessary to establish short-term temporary orders before the final divorce decree. These orders can cover various aspects such as child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), and the use of the marital home or other marital property.
To obtain temporary orders, you'll need to file a motion in a Florida court explaining what you're asking for and why.
Crafting a divorce strategy
Creating a comprehensive divorce strategy is an essential step in navigating the process smoothly. But what does this mean?
Start by establishing ground rules with your spouse. These rules can guide how and when you'll discuss divorce matters, how to respect each other's privacy, and how to handle interactions with your children during this time.
In Florida, no-fault divorces are standard, which means that you don't need to prove any wrongdoing on your spouse's part to get a divorce. Your only grounds for divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This approach simplifies the process, lessens potential conflicts, and allows you to focus on the practical aspects of the divorce.
For some couples, Florida offers a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage process. This is an option for couples who agree on all issues, have no minor or dependent children, and are willing to waive their rights to alimony and a trial. This route can be quicker and less costly than traditional divorce proceedings.
Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps the divorcing couple negotiate and reach a complete marital settlement agreement. It often leads to solutions tailored to the unique needs of the family. Mediation minimizes conflict and is generally less expensive than going to court.
In fact, mediation is required in Florida. You don't have to go through multiple rounds if it's not working, but both parties are required to attend at least one session and make their best effort to resolve issues.
If you're unsure of your next steps, consider scheduling a free 15-minute phone call with Hello Divorce. Our mission is to make divorce affordable and accessible to everyone. We have cost-effective plans and provide other services as well, such as mediation and legal advice. Our goal is to serve people regardless of their budget or need.