What is the First Step if I Want to Get a Divorce in Florida?
The first step in the divorce process should be to educate yourself about Florida law as it applies to your case. If you have children, you should read Florida Statute §61.13 regarding parenting plans and timesharing schedules. If you have a marital home, retirement account, assets and/or debts, you should read Florida Statute § 61.075 regarding equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. If alimony is going to be an issue, review Florida Statute § 61.08. Child support is governed by Florida Statute § 61.30. All of these issues and more are addressed in detail on this website. Please utilize the resources we’ve provided for you.
Your second step should be to meet with a qualified and experienced divorce attorney. Assuming that you’ve followed through with step one above, your initial conference with your prospective attorney will be much more meaningful and productive. By the way, both steps one and two should be accomplished before you mention a word to your spouse about a divorce.
Step three, depending on your attorney’s advice, should be to make copies of all important financial documents such as tax returns, investment and retirement account statements, financial statements for family businesses, personal financial statements which may have been completed for your banker, social security statements, deeds, mortgages and appraisals for your home or other real estate, credit card and debt statements, among others. If your spouse has been having an affair and you have proof, then copy or reproduce that as well. These documents should be copied and returned to their original location in the house. All of these documents should be stored at a trusted friend’s or family member’s house to which your spouse has no access. Do not store the aforementioned documents in your car or hide them in your house. They can and often do disappear.
The final step, assuming the timing is right, will be to announce to your spouse that you want a divorce. By the time this announcement is made, you will be prepared and ready for everything that may be thrown at you. I tell my clients that getting a divorce isn’t like breaking up with your highschool sweetheart, where your first step is to trash his or her locker. In a divorce, you should investigate and document what’s in the locker before you announce the breakup.
The Rice & Rose Law Firm has been assisting spouses and parents with divorce and family law matters in Volusia and Flagler Counties for over 25 years. Call or e-mail our experienced attorneys and staff if you have questions about a divorce.