It’s estimated that around 46% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. This is a statistic that has seemed to stay consistent since 2010.
Filing for divorce is a big decision. For many, it is also full of emotion and uncertainty. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your situation when filing for a Florida divorce is by hiring an experienced Jacksonville divorce attorney. At Griffin Family Law, PLLC, I take pride in providing each client with individual legal services to help ensure they get the best possible outcome for their situation.
While I am here to help with any family law matter, if you are planning to file for divorce, there are a few steps you should take first. Keep reading to learn what these are.
1. Understand the Florida Divorce Process and Terminology
If you plan to file for divorce, the term “dissolution of marriage” will come up a lot. In the state of Florida, this is the phrase used by courts and the legal industry when talking about divorce.
Sometimes, you can agree on the major issues related to your divorce from your spouse. If this is the case, you can choose a collaborative dissolution process. Usually, this type of divorce is faster and less expensive than a contested divorce (a contested divorce is one where you rely on the courts to make decisions on your behalf).
2. Do not Threaten a Divorce Until You Are Sure You Want to Move Forward
If you threaten to file for divorce before doing so, it may result in your partner moving assets, planning for divorce, or putting themselves in a position with your children that may impact your case.
Rather than threatening this, be sure you are ready to file. This will ensure that you have planned the process out and are ready to move forward.
3. Get Organized
Before filing for divorce, take time to create a list of all your marital debts and assets. Getting copies of important financial records and ensuring everything is organized is smart.
The Florida divorce process is often complex. You must determine all the accounts you and your spouse have. Some of the accounts to include are the following:
- Life insurance policies
- Bank accounts
- Credit cards
- Retirement funds
Regarding divorce, it does not matter whose name is on an account or if the assets are held jointly. Getting copies of your most recent pay stubs and tax returns is also necessary.
You should also get copies of any information and documents you have stored online. Be sure to gather the login information for your online accounts, too, as your lawyer will need this.
After the divorce papers have been served, it is not uncommon for one spouse to take steps to prevent the other spouse from accessing this information.
4. Figure Out What Custody Arrangement You Want
If you have children, custody is an important part of a divorce. In most situations, you and your spouse will share custody. There are exceptions when extreme circumstances are present.
It is smart to sit down and look at your and your children’s schedules. Take time to produce the best schedule for custody for your situation.
Developing a plan that gives you and your spouse time with your children helps you move the divorce process forward faster.
5. Take Steps to Protect Your Online Accounts
There is no question that we live in the digital era. With so much digital transparency, you must understand that the information and pictures you post online can be used as evidence in your divorce case.
One of the most common ways this information is used is in custody situations. Because of this, it is smart to update your privacy settings. Doing so will help you keep more of your online information safe and away from prying eyes.
Part of the process involved in protecting your online accounts is to change your passwords to your social media pages and email accounts. There are other steps you may want to take, too. For example, you can clear content from devices you share with your spouse or purchase a new phone plan. Doing this can keep your spouse from tracking the texts and calls you make.
6. Take Steps to Separate Your Life from Your Spouse’s Life
It is important to remember that the life you built with your life was not established overnight. Because of this, it can be challenging to separate.
You should take a few steps before filing for divorce to help the separation process along. These steps include the following:
Open Bank Accounts and Credit Cards in Your Name Only
If you currently use joint checking and saving accounts, or joint credit cards, it is a good idea to open ones in your own name. Also, do not make large purchases on your new credit accounts or arrange to deposit your paycheck in your newly opened account. This is something you should talk about with your lawyer.
Open a Post Office Box
This is important if you want to ensure your spouse does not know you plan to file for divorce until you are ready. With a P.O. box, you can receive documents related to the divorce without your spouse being able to find them.
Figure Out Your Health Insurance Situation
If you depend on your spouse’s employer for your health insurance, now is the time to establish a private plan. U.S. citizens who are unemployed may qualify for assistance. Also, if you have a health care power of attorney, be sure to name someone besides your spouse to it.
Increase Your Income or Save Money
Regardless of what your situation is now, filing for divorce is going to change your finances. Because of this, you should prepare as early as possible. Take time to save money or take steps to increase your income. By doing this, you can feel confident that you will be financially stable when your divorce is finalized.
7. Talk to an Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney
If you have decided to file for divorce, it is recommended that you speak to a Jacksonville family law attorney. The attorney you choose can review your situation and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Take time to speak with several lawyers to find the one who best suits your needs.
Contact Me for Help and Information
At Griffin Family Law, PLLC, I take pride in helping my clients through complicated family law issues. Contact my office today if you are in Florida and need this same quality representation for your family law matter. I will take the time to review your situation and let you know the most likely outcome.