Going through a divorce is a life-changing experience. Splitting up assets, breaking the news to the children, and dealing with new financial circumstances can be difficult. In addition, you’re experiencing a wide range of emotions that can make the process even more complicated. If you’ve already made the decision to dissolve your marriage, or your spouse has begun filing paperwork, it’s helpful to know what steps should be taken up-front, and how working with the right divorce lawyer will make this difficult process move along as quickly and peacefully as possible. Here are 7 steps to get you started:
Decide how you and your spouse will settle your divorce
There are four types of divorce in Florida. Even if you and your spouse agree on the divorce proceedings, and how assets and debts will be divided, it is still in the best interest of all parties involved to consult with a local divorce lawyer. Dissolving a marriage is a complex process, made even more challenging when children and large assets are involved. When you file, you will fall under one of the four following categories:
- Simplified Divorce
- Both parties agree to the divorce
- Neither spouse has children
- Both parties can agree on how to divide assets and debts
- Uncontested Divorce
- Does not qualify for a simplified divorce
- Both parties agree on everything
- Collaborative Divorce
- Both parties are represented by a divorce lawyer, with a pledge to resolve issues out of court
- Open and honest conversations are encouraged between both parties
- Creates a tailored resolution that meets the needs of your family
- Contested Divorce
- Disagreements exist
Contact a local divorce lawyer
It’s in your best interest to find an experienced, local divorce lawyer who knows the laws in your state and will take the time to understand your unique circumstances. During this difficult time your mind may be consumed with a wide range of emotions. It will be helpful to have someone on your side, who’s looking out for your best interests – even if the situation is simplified and both parties amicably agree on how to divide all assets and debts. Your divorce attorney will be able to file all necessary paperwork for you, keep things organized, and help you understand your rights. When deciding whether you need a divorce lawyer, consider these situations.
Assess your debts, assets, and finances
Now is the time to gather all your financial paperwork and account statements; and make detailed lists of your assets and debts. It’s helpful if you and your spouse can work together on this process, but we realize that in many cases this may not be possible. Necessary documents include, but are not limited to, tax returns, W-2 forms, insurance policies, loan and mortgage statements, and retirement account information. Consider everything you own, and everything you owe. It’s important to understand where you and your spouse stand financially, as your finances and other assets – under Florida law – will be equitably distributed.
Make a budget
If you haven’t already, create a budget so you know how much you currently have and how much you’ll need to live on once your divorce is final. These numbers can be startling at first, as you go from one household to two, and will differ greatly as you separate finances. However, these factors can affect how you and your divorce lawyer will negotiate your potential timesharing / custody settlement. Insurance coverage after a divorce is another topic to consider, as many households are under one policy.
Custody / Timesharing goals
Under Florida law, you and your spouse must agree to a parenting plan that includes timesharing, formerly called custody agreements, for any children. Some people even set up custody for a pet during a divorce. Your divorce lawyer can help you consider how your work schedule, your child’s schedule, and your other obligations will affect your ability to timeshare. The focus here should be on the children and their best interests – this is not the time to let your ego get in the way. It’s also important to remember that your children should be left out of the emotional turmoil that you may be personally facing. You are encouraged to talk with them about the changes that will be taking place in the household, and to remind them that no matter what, they are loved. But they should not be involved in your grievances, or left to address your emotional battles. After all, this is a very challenging time for them as well.
Determine your living situation
Talk with your spouse about the living situation for both parties during and after your divorce. If either of you should choose to move out of the home before a settlement is reached, this could affect outcomes in the case of a contested divorce. Know that if your name is on a deed or lease, you have equal rights to remain in your residence unless the courts decide otherwise. If you’re not sure if you should move out of your home during a divorce, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider.
Ending a marriage is never easy, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone – no matter how much you may be hurting. While figuring out the logistics of your divorce is important, it’s ok to give yourself time to grieve and feel your emotions. Don’t be afraid of turning to loved ones, a support group, or a mental health professional during this difficult time.
The decisions that you make throughout your divorce will affect you and your children for years to come. It’s important to take the proper steps now, so you can ultimately feel comfortable with the outcome. We can help you navigate the legal intricacies of your divorce with compassion and care. If you have questions about your divorce or are in need of an experienced divorce lawyer, contact our team at 941-365-7171 or click here to schedule a consultation with a Sarasota / Bradenton divorce lawyer. Together we can help you successfully move forward with this new chapter in your life.
• Alimony (Spousal Support)
• Child Support
• Child Support Enforcement and Modification
• Parenting Plans and Timesharing
• Parental Responsibility
• Equitable Distribution of Property
• Collaborative Divorce