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9 Things to Do Before Filing for Divorce

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 21, 2022

Divorce can be a complicated, awkward, and emotionally draining process. How do you decide who gets what? What if your spouse puts up a fight? If you have kids, where do they fit into the proceedings?

You do not want to be hanging in divorce limbo for a long time – the sooner you can settle your divorce, the sooner you can get back to living your life. The best way to settle a divorce quickly is to be prepared.

Consider these 9 steps you can take to prepare for divorce.

Read and Understand Divorce Proceedings in Florida. Filing for divorce can appear intimidating, uncomfortable, and unnecessarily lengthy. Florida has specific laws regarding proceedings, child support, and division of property.

However, with open communication and proper preparation, your divorce can be settled in a reasonable amount of time. Read over our step-by-step guide to the divorce process in Florida to understand what is ahead in the next few months.

Collect Financial Documents. In the state of Florida, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to begin a divorce settlement. After the petition has been served, you have 45 days to complete a financial affidavit for the court and your spouse. 

Here are some documents to collect for your affidavit:

• Income
• Tax return
• Bank statements
• Assets
• Debts
• Personal financial statements
• Credit card statements

Establish Personal Credit. Your financial status and credit score may change during and after divorce proceedings. Prepare for financial independence by establishing your own credit. Just like you were told as you were applying for your first credit card, it is good to start building up your credit score as soon as possible.

Evaluate Marital Property and Joint Accounts. When you and your spouse separate, your incomes will separate and your assets must be divided. Over the years you may have acquired property or created joint financial accounts for the benefit of your marriage.

Before you file for divorce, evaluate your marital vs. non-marital property, and discuss how you intend marital property to be divided. This way, you are not unpleasantly surprised during proceedings. Knowing the status of your post-divorce income and assets will also help you plan for the future.

Close Joint Financial Accounts. While having proof of the expenses made on joint credit card accounts is important to have during divorce proceedings, it may be a good idea to close those accounts before filing for divorce. By closing these accounts early, there will be no opportunities for either spouse to take advantage of the joint accounts. Separate accounts will hold each person accountable for their purchases during the divorce settlement.

Openly Discuss Child Custody and Child Support. Simply filing for divorce is not easy, and filing for divorce with children can make the process more emotional and stressful. The cost of child support payments in Florida is determined by the monthly income of each parent, as well as the monthly costs of healthcare, daycare, etc.

Get an idea of what your spouse envisions in regard to child custody and support after your divorce is settled. If your children are emotionally mature enough, you should also have an open discussion with them about their futures as well.

Prepare a Post-Divorce Budget. The next few months may bring emotional stress. Cut down on potential stress factors with a well-planned post-divorce budget. Consider the possible changes in your income, payments, and living situation.

Does your new budget require downsizing, or moving to a different residence? What debts do you still owe, and which will be taken care of by your spouse? Will you have to add child support payments to your monthly bills?

Consider Mediation. The past three steps rely heavily on the cooperation of your spouse. You and your spouse do not have to perfectly agree on every aspect of your divorce. Florida classifies divorce as either “contested” or “uncontested”: uncontested divorces rely on each spouse agreeing on major issues concerning their divorce settlements. Conversely, contested divorces are the result of disagreements between each spouse. A judge will settle these disagreements.

Contested divorces usually take longer than uncontested divorces and can cause more friction between your spouse and your family. If the two of you cannot seem to agree on any issue relating to your divorce, consider counseling or mediation. A professional third-party source may help you come to a reasonable agreement and make filing for divorce a less stressful process.

Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney. There are a variety of smaller marriage-specific tasks to put on your pre-divorce checklist. 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. Contact us today for a consultation and advice for your next steps.