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7 Things You Should Do Before Asking For a Divorce
A marriage ending can be a trying time for both spouses. Beyond the emotional hardship of breaking up a relationship, there are also many issues that need to be sorted out between a couple.
Divorces can be long and draining, and it can take months to resolve matters related to finances, property, and child support and custody. Because these cases are often complicated, there are several things that you can do in advance of filing that will help you better prepare for your divorce.
Educate Yourself on the Divorce Process Terminology
You may have seen the term “dissolution of marriage” when researching the divorce process. In Florida, this is the phrase the courts use when referring to divorce. If you and your spouse agree on the major issues involved in a divorce, you can pursue what is called a “collaborative dissolution process.”
This is a more streamlined divorce and allows you to avoid having the court decide matters related to property division, spousal support, and child support and custody. In this case, you and your spouse simply come to an agreement that works best for both of you.
Think Over Your Decision
Note that divorce is final. It is also often expensive and messy for everyone involved. If you think that there is a possibility of you and your spouse reconciling, you might consider other less drastic options first.
One option is a trial separation. In a trial separation, you would live apart from your spouse for a period. After that time has passed, you then decide whether you still want to proceed with the divorce.
Organize Your Finances
Another important pre-divorce step you can take is to create a list of all your marital assets and debts. You should also gather copies of all pertinent financial records. This process can be complex and requires you to determine all of the accounts held by you and your spouse.
These accounts might include:
Life insurance policies.
Note that for the purposes of divorce it doesn’t matter which spouse’s name is on the account or whether your assets are titled jointly. You should also obtain copies of your recent tax returns and pay stubs.
Next, make sure you retain copies of all important documents and information stored online. Also, it is wise to gather all login information and any other documents related to online accounts. Once divorce papers are served, it is not uncommon for one spouse to interfere with the other spouse’s ability to gain access to these documents.
Protect Your Online Accounts
In an age of digital transparency, it is important to understand that pictures and information you post online can be used in a divorce. This can come up in custody matters as well, so updating your privacy settings can help keep more of this data protected.
Part of this process includes changing passwords to email and social media pages. Additional steps you might consider would be clearing off content from any shared devices, and obtaining a new phone plan to prevent your spouse from tracking your calls and texts.
Matters related to children can be hot button issues in a divorce. For that reason, it is good practice to consider what type of custody arrangement you want before going to court. Note that the court will make its decision primarily upon what is in the best interests of the child, which does consider which parent was the primary caretaker during the marriage.
It can also be useful to speak with your children about these matters. A divorce represents a major change to the family dynamic. Understanding your children’s needs and preferences can be very helpful in putting together a workable custody agreement.
It is important to figure out where you and your spouse will live while the divorce is pending. There can be conflict over which spouse gets to remain in the marital home and which needs to move out. For the spouse that leaves, steps need to be taken to determine where to live and with whom.
Talk to an Attorney
Many couples put off talking to a lawyer until it is time to file for a divorce. However, speaking to an attorney in the early stages can be very helpful in putting all of these pre-divorce matters in order. For that reason, it is always advisable to reach out for legal help with this process.