November 9, 2021
The end of a marriage can be difficult for everyone, including the spouses and any children from the relationship. Processing a divorce as quickly and efficiently as possible while achieving a mutually satisfactory agreement is the goal, but this does not always happen. Divorce cases that drag-on can be detrimental to your financial stability and mental health and have negative repercussions for your entire family.
The first step in the filing process for a divorce in Florida is to file a dissolution of marriage petition with the Clerk of Circuit Court. Before you file anything with the family court, however, there are several steps that you can take to help streamline the divorce process and to minimize the amount of related stress and uncertainty.
Read on to learn about important things to complete before filing for your divorce and how a divorce attorney can help advocate for your rights and interests.
Learn The Divorce Proceedings and Rules In Florida
Going into the divorce process with blinders on will make it a more stressful experience and potentially lead to you making mistakes that might negatively impact your ability to achieve a fair settlement. Taking the time to learn about the specific laws that Florida has in place concerning divorce proceedings, child support, and the division of property will inform you throughout the process. The best way to do this is to sit down with a divorce lawyer who can explain the divorce process to you.
While divorce can be complex and take quite a bit of time, your divorce can also proceed efficiently and quickly, depending on how you manage the proceedings and how experienced and skilled your divorce attorney is. Having representation might seem to increase the chances of a contested divorce when, in reality, it often helps to resolve divorce issues easier.
Collect Financial Documents and Records
The divorce process addresses the division of marital property, and if there are children, the determination of time-sharing arrangements. In terms of the property, it is helpful to collect your financial records and documents before filing for divorce so that you have certain access to all the information you need. Waiting until after filing, when a divorce is already heated, can lead to difficulty accessing certain information, so it is better to have the documents in hand before filing.
Some of the documents to collect in support of your divorce affidavit include:
- Income statements
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Personal financial statements
- Lists of assets and debts
- Credit card statements
- Insurance policies
- Titles and deeds
Take the Time to Establish Personal Credit
After going through a divorce, your financial status may change, and you can no longer depend on your spouse’s credit history to gain approval for financing. It is helpful to prepare for your financial independence by establishing your own credit and building on it. This sets you up for financial success and options after the dissolution of the marriage is final.
Discuss Child-Related Issues Openly
If you have a child together, it is important to discuss custody and support openly for the best interests of all parties involved. How you and your spouse hope to establish time-sharing and parental responsibilities might differ, so having the time to discuss before a court decides for you is an important step in assuring that child custody and support orders are mutually agreeable.
Reaching agreements regarding child-related matters can help to keep the situation amicable, which can increase the likelihood of healthy co-parenting. This benefits everyone in the family moving forward, so openly working toward time-sharing objectives can be a highly positive step in divorce preparation.
Before Filing, Consider the Benefits of Resolving Your Divorce With Mediation
Mediation is when you and your former spouse work with a third party to discuss your desires and goals. You work together toward creating an agreement you can both sign onto without having the courts force you into a certain arrangement. Mediation can be beneficial for many reasons – first and foremost that it allows you to talk to someone impartial and ready to facilitate compromise.
Additionally, your power over the settlement increases, as the mediator cannot force you to accept anything but instead helps to guide you and your former spouse toward a solution that you both agree with. Mediation maintains your control over the decision in your divorce and allows you and your former spouse, alongside your attorneys, to determine exactly how you will divide property and assets, as well as any unresolved child-related matters. When you go to trial, the court takes over the decision-making power, and you might not like where it ends up.
Find The Right Divorce Attorney For You In Florida
Perhaps the most important step to prepare for divorce is to find the best divorce lawyer for you. Divorce attorneys have different ways they can approach each case and different communication styles. You should set up an initial consultation and prepare a list of questions you have for the attorney.
These might include:
- Can you keep my divorce case out of court?
- What happens if one or more issues must go before the judge?
- Do you have mediators you recommend?
- How do most of your divorce cases resolve?
- How long do you think my divorce case will take?
- How much are your attorney’s fees, and how will I need to pay them?
- What should I do to best prepare for my divorce case?
If one divorce lawyer does not seem like the best fit, you should not hesitate to schedule a consultation with someone else. A consultation gives you no obligation to hire an attorney – or even to file for divorce at all.
Many people in Florida meet with a divorce lawyer to learn about the process and later change their minds and continue to work on the marriage.
Even if you and your spouse seem to agree on all relevant matters, you still want a legal professional reviewing your agreements and ensuring you meet all requirements for a Florida divorce. Any mistakes can be costly, so have the right help from the start of the process.