2019 Divorce - 3 Steps Before You File
Although we think of divorce as a highly emotional process, it is also a legal process to divide a household between two spouses. The household typically includes assets, debts, property and sometimes children. Here are 3 steps you can take before you file for a smoother legal process.
1. Educate Yourself on the Family FinancesIn Florida the court has to identify all of the marital assets and debts and divide them between the spouses. This division is usually 50/50. Marital assets and debts are generally those accumulated during the marriage. This includes bank accounts, credit cards, real estate, cars, even jewelry. It does not matter whose name is on the account or the title. If the asset was purchased during the marriage, it is generally going to be found to be marital. Figuring out what assets and debts exist can be a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process. This process can cost thousands of dollars in extra fees and months of extra time in your divorce if you don't know this information. The more you know before you file for divorce, the better.
2. Determine Your Household BudgetAnother key issue the court has to determine in every Florida divorce case is support. This includes spousal support (also known as alimony) and child support if you and your spouse have any children under the age of 18. The way the court looks at this issue is to figure out what the necessary monthly household expenses are for the family. Then the court looks at the income each spouse earns. If one spouse earns substantially more money than the other, the court can order the higher wage earner to help support the other spouse (alimony) and the minor children (child support). Familiarize yourself with the household bills before you file for divorce so you know how much money you really need on a monthly basis to run your household. Find out how much income you and your spouse bring in each month and whether there is any money left over after the bills are paid. The more you know about your household income and expenses before you file for divorce, the better.
3. Learn How to Co-ParentIf you have any children under the age of 18, the Florida court will have to create a Parenting Plan. The Parenting Plan determines how the parents will make major decisions for the children such as where they will go to school (parental responsibility), and how much time the parents will spend with the children after the divorce (timesharing). In Florida, the overnight timesharing schedule directly impacts the amount of child support that is owed from one parent to the other. As a result, some parents who were previously uninvolved in raising the kids may suddenly demand that the kids sleep at their house 50% of the time after the divorce. Review the different timesharing schedules that can be used for kids of different ages and think about what will work for your family. Again, the more you know about timesharing options before your file for divorce, the better.