How to Prepare for a Divorce in Florida

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How to Prepare for a Divorce in Florida

Around 50% of first-time marriages end in divorce, and this number is even higher in second-time marriages. As such, it is important to be aware of how to go about a divorce in case you need one. If you feel that your marriage is beyond repair and heading down the road towards a divorce, you need to get ready and become informed. Below are some tips about the most crucial things you can do to prepare for your divorce before filing.

Family Assets

You need to conduct a thorough search of all family assets to fully understand the financial status of your family. It is important for you to have detailed information about all bank accounts and assets comprising the family wealth. This information will be essential during the divorce for the fair division of the assets.

Financial Affidavit
Once you file for divorce, it is also mandatory that you file a financial affidavit. As such, it is essential that you start compiling any financial documents, including 401K, IRA, tax returns, and checking account records, among others. Once it is clear that your marriage is headed down the divorce route, you and your partner are likely to receive similar advice about these financial documents from your lawyers. As such, it will be a race between the two of you, and one party could get them before the other, or they could simply go missing.

Another factor to consider is whether your spouse is a spendthrift or could become one out of spite. If your spouse is likely to spend your finances on ridiculous things just to get back at you, it is important that you protect yourself by having your own credit card account or taking their name off of the accounts. The bottom line is, if you feel that a divorce is the only way forward for your marriage, it is important to ensure you have financial protection.

Prepare your Credit Cards for Emergencies
It is important to start looking at your credit cards and their viability in case you have to deal with emergencies. This is especially crucial when you are a stay-at-home spouse, or if your partner is the one who brings home the paycheck. If that is the case, you can start taking out some cash and saving it for any needs you might have. Your spouse may also be reluctant to get you an attorney, so the money will help you cover your attorney fees.

Time-sharing Plan

It is important to have a time-sharing plan for the children, especially if you are no longer sharing the same residence. If you and your partner have not developed a schedule in regards to who will be staying with the children, it is likely that the parent with the children will get their custody.

If your partner is contesting custody, it is vital to pinpoint issues such as domestic violence. And if you have an injunction in place, you can use it during the process to support your request for custody. If your partner has anger management issues, you should relocate to a new place or take other protective measures, such as getting a restraining order.

If divorce is uncontested, however, there’s nothing much to worry about.

In the event of a long and tedious custody battle, you will want to be actively involved in your child/children’s lives. The best way to do that is by familiarizing yourself with their teachers and daily routines. Close relationships and familiarity with your children will place you in a better position for receiving their custody.

Beyond their school and daily routine, it is vital that you are familiar with any after-school programs they may be a part of, any sports they play, and their health status history, among other issues. In the end, the court will look out for the best interests of the children, therefore, custody will be awarded to the parent who is most active in their lives.

Maintain Normalcy in Child’s Life
When seeking a divorce, you need to protect your child/children’s interests as much as you protect your own. Make sure that despite the divorce, the children continue with their lives as normally as possible. If they always have lunch at a certain restaurant with their mom on Fridays, it is important that they maintain that routine.

Try to avoid letting the divorce affect the child/children in any way, because when the divorce is over, you will still both be their parents. Keep in mind that any fights between you and spouse will affect the children the most.

Before initializing the dissolution of your marriage, you need to have some level of understanding of the divorce process. This ensures that, while following the process, you will understand what is happening and even know what to expect.

When filing for a divorce in Florida, there are seven stages you must go through leading to the trial. As a resident of the State of Florida, it is important to familiarize yourself with these stages to best be able to navigate through each.

Stage 1: Filing the Petition
The filing party is referred to as the petitioner, while the other party is the respondent. The petitioner files the petition in the circuit court of Florida, with the claim that their marriage is irretrievably broken, listing the issues they would like the court to enforce or determine.

Stage 2: Filing the Answer
The respondent is expected to file an answer within 20 days of receiving a copy of the petition. In the answer, the respondent provides their response to the petition by agreeing, disagreeing, or claiming to be unaware of the claims made in the petition. The respondent can also include a counter-petition for the dissolution of marriage at this stage. If that happens, the petitioner is expected to respond to the counter-petition.

Stage 3: Filing Additional Paperwork
In this stage, the divorcing parties both file additional paperwork to enable the court to evaluate each spouse individually and make informed decisions based on their situation. The Florida Divorce Courts mainly require each spouse’s financial affidavit, child support guideline worksheet, and UCCJEA Affidavit.

Stage 4: Discovery
Typically, the affidavit provided in the last stage only covers some of the necessary financial information, so the court will ask for mandatory disclosures including tax returns, proof of income, bank statements, credit card statements, retirement account statements, other investment account statements, and proof of any other debts. The discovery stage gives each partner the opportunity to look into the financial information of the other spouse, as such, the court orders full disclosure.

Stage 5: Mediation
Mediation is a form of negotiation between both spouses guided by an impartial 3rd party known as a mediator. For cases where issues of the divorce are contested by either party, Florida Divorce Law may require that the couple enter into meditation with the aim to resolve any contentious issues. It is advisable to consider using this stage to avoid judicial decisions as well as save money and time. In the case of domestic violence within the marriage, a couple can skip this step.

Stage 6: Parenting Plans
The Florida Divorce Court requires the divorcing couple to submit a parenting plan for any children below the age of 18. The Florida Statute Title VI, Chapter 61, Section 13 encourages parents to “share the rights, responsibilities, and joys of childbearing. Parenting plans are based on this statute and as such require information such as a parenting schedule, task sharing schedule, forms (healthcare, education, and other activities), and parental communication. In cases where the divorcing parents have minor children, the Florida Courts advise attending a mandatory parenting class before entering the final stage of the dissolution of marriage.

Stage 7: The Trial
This is also referred to as the final contested hearing. It is a trial before a judge to resolve issues that remain unsettled after the mediation stage. In most cases, the couple will agree and settle on some things on their own, which is why the court of Florida requires both spouses to sign and notarize an agreement highlighting issues relating to: property division, alimony, child support, parenting plan, and attorney fees.

If an agreement is already in place for all the issues, the final hearing will just be used to go over the settlement agreement to make sure everything looks fair and the child’s best interests are met.

If some issues remain contested and unsettled, this stage will be used for both parties to present evidence to the court supporting their case, and the court will eventually rule on all contentious issues.

Now that you know how to prepare for a divorce in Florida, it is also essential to know that if your divorce is uncontested, you can do an affordable and fast online divorce. Online Florida Divorce is an online divorce service designed to guide you through the divorce process in the State of Florida and help you complete the required divorce forms for your case. With the help of Online Florida Divorce, you will not need to hire an attorney to guide you through the paperwork process, as the service will do all for you.

Online Florida Divorce allows you to complete all the paperwork for divorce from the comfort of your own home, quickly and for a very affordable price. The service only uses court-approved forms and will provide you with easy to follow filing instructions, so you can be sure that your divorce papers will be accepted without any issues or delays.

Use Online Florida Divorce today to make your uncontested divorce process seamless and straight forward.

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