So your spouse asked for a divorce, what should you do:
Avoiding an emotional tailspin is vital to your well being right now. With this hard-hit, you still have to stay focused and take timely steps to get prepared. Notably, the first thing you should consider is whether couples counseling is an option or if you and your partner have any desire to reconcile. If reconciliation is not an option, it is advisable to make an appointment with a qualified attorney to discuss your options.
2. Speak with an attorney to discuss your options and your rights.
After regrouping and organizing your thoughts and emotions, the next step would be to speak with an attorney to understand your rights and understand the legal process for divorce. The attorney will go over with you the many options you have to process your divorce.
- You can go the traditional litigated route that may result in a judge determining your case,
- You may settle during mediation or out of court negotiations, or
- You may use the Collaborative process to fully empower yourself to ultimately determine how your case is resolved in a confidential and respectful setting.
Whichever path you choose will depend on your personal choice and the specific facts surrounding your case. More importantly, an attorney will help you navigate your ultimate strategy in the divorce to best protect your goals.
3. Read and review your county’s local standing order.
Most counties in Florida have some form of a temporary standing order (or an Administrative order). The language and terms change from county to county but typically require the same general principles. For example, most temporary orders require parties to share parental responsibility for mutual children and maintain household bills like the mortgage, electricity, and credit card bills. They also typically prohibit parties from “cutting off” the other by moving money, taking the other spouse off accounts, draining bank accounts, or removing spouses from health insurance. It’s advisable that if you or your spouse is considering divorce, you read through your county’s order to ensure you know what’s expected of you.
4. Familiarize yourself with your family finances and make sure you have access to funds.
Once divorce proceedings have begun, you will need to disclose a substantial amount of financial information to your spouse and/or their attorney (and yours). It would be best if you began collecting this information and familiarize yourself with these finances as soon as possible since collecting your financial disclosures can be time-consuming. If you haven’t been historically involved in the family’s finances, understanding your family’s finances is extremely important. While the court may sanction a party for cutting off another spouse, you should still be proactive and make sure you are protected from this happening to you. Courts do not move quickly and are reactive – not proactive. If you are cut off, it will take time to file a motion and obtain a hearing on the motion, which can take several weeks. For that reason, it is recommended that you have your own bank account and/or credit cards for emergency use.
5. Don’t make a permanent change based on a temporary emotion.
Divorce is emotional and can be fear and anxiety-inducing. Parties may feel the need to “take” control over some assets to prevent them from being used by the other or to go ahead and start splitting property and removing their spouse from policies. You should avoid doing this unless you and your spouse agree to do so jointly. More so, it would be best if you were sure of the decisions you make because they have a lasting impact.
For example, before agreeing to sell the house, make sure you do not want to keep the home. This is especially important in parenting decisions. If you prematurely agree to a Parenting Plan, it is much more challenging to go back in time and gain additional timesharing. When negotiating terms of your Marital Settlement Agreement and your Parenting Plan (if needed) you need to make decisions with the long term in mind and not sign an unfair agreement just to finalize it. These agreements oftentimes cannot be easily changed, if at all.
If you’ve been hit with the “I want a divorce,” we know this is an extremely difficult time for you. When emotional, it’s hard to make decisions based on your future with what you’re feeling right now. This is why we suggest you reach out to an experienced family law attorney that can guide you through it all. We’ve seen it all, heard it all, and we can be there for you through it all. Reach out at 407-403-5990 to let us help you through this tough time.