Baby Steps: What To Do Immediately Following Your Decision to File for Divorce
“I want a divorce!” These four words are much easier said than done, but once they are out there, they cannot be taken back. Because of this, once you utter them, you better be sure that you have a post-divorce plan in place—as well as a plan of how you and your spouse are going to live post-announcement and pre-divorce. After all, simply announcing your desire for a divorce is going to send your lives into an upheaval, and it is best for you and your family if you have a clear idea of how you are going to proceed once all of your feelings are out in the open.
From finding a temporary place to live, to splitting time with the kids, there are a lot of major decisions to make in the face of divorce. Because of this, we ask our clients to really consider whether or not they are ready to file for divorce, and to hold off on making the big announcement until they are 100 percent sure that divorce is the right decision for them.
Are You Really Ready for Divorce?
If you are considering divorce, our family law attorneys recommend taking these five actions before making your announcement and filing with the courts:
- Think things through. Divorce is never easy, even if it is uncontested, and it can be emotionally draining and expensive if both parties are not on board with the separation. Before filing for divorce, consult with friends, family members, or even a marriage therapist to try and sort out your feelings. In many cases, couples are hasty in their decision to get a divorce, and end up regretting it later on down the road. Before you make your final decision, make sure that you are not acting out of feelings of anger or hurt, but rather, are calm and rational in your thinking.
- Meet with a divorce attorney. A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you fully understand what a divorce will entail, how the process will work, and what rights you are entitled to regarding property division, alimony, child support, and child custody and visitation. Visiting with a divorce attorney pre-announcement may make you feel better about the whole situation, as well as help you to avoid costly mistakes during the divorce process.
- Review your finances. Unlike most states – which are community property states – Florida is an equitable distribution state. According to Florida Statute 61.075, Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Liabilities, in distributing marital property and liability, the Florida divorce courts begin with the assumption that distribution be equal throughout, unless there is a justification for unequal distribution of assets. Two of those justifying factors are the financial circumstances of each party upon the dissolution of the marriage, and the contribution to the marriage by each spouse. (For a complete list of justifying factors, visit the link provided.) In order to avoid a long, drawn-out, and costly battle in court over who gets what, it would be in your best interests to have an accurate assessment of both yours and your spouse’s bank accounts, property, assets, and debts, and a clear idea of who contributed what. Keep in mind that your role as homemaker in the marriage constitutes as a contribution, and that as a homemaker, you are entitled to a fair share of the property and assets.
While you are still living under the same roof, gather as much information as you can regarding your debt and finances, such as account numbers, investments, retirement accounts, mortgages, credit card statements and any other assets and debts you can think of. Get copies of both yours and your spouse’s most recent tax returns. If your spouse owns a business, try to get financial statements for the business as well.
- Start Saving. If you and your spouse own a joint bank account, open a separate account in your name and start putting funds into it as regularly as you can. Legal fees, therapist’s bills, and the costs for maintaining a second household can add up quickly, so you want to be prepared in the event that your spouse cuts you off from the joint account.
- Protect your privacy. Because today’s world is so digitized, many judges will allow the admittance of text messages, emails, and any other electronic documents that could be used against you in your divorce. To protect yourself and your rights during divorce, make sure that all of your privacy settings on are high on both your phone and your computer. If you share a computer with your spouse, do not conduct any research on it that may be used against you in the future, such as relocation information, job search information for positions out of county or out of state, or child custody and child support information.
Consult a Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our Florida divorce attorneys can help you better understand the divorce process, and help you determine whether or not divorce is right for you. To learn more about what a Florida divorce entails, contact our family law firm at 561-391-9943 or online to schedule a private consultation today.