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How to Prepare for Divorce
There is no one answer to the question of when you should file for divorce. Every situation is unique, and there are a variety of factors to consider before making the decision to end your marriage. However, there are some general signs that may indicate it is time to start thinking about divorce.
If you find yourself constantly arguing with your spouse, and those arguments are not being resolved, it may be a sign that divorce is the best option. If you no longer feel like you are able to communicate effectively with your spouse, or if you feel like you are always walking on eggshells around them, those are also signs that your marriage may be in trouble.
No one knows your situation better than you do, so only you can decide when the time is right to file for divorce. However, if you are feeling unhappy in your marriage and you have tried to work on things without success, it may be time to consult with a divorce attorney to discuss your next steps.
Steps Towards Divorce
If you’re considering getting a divorce, it’s important to understand the process and what your options are. In Florida, the legal process for divorce can be complex. You’ll need to file a petition with the court and serve your spouse with the paperwork. Once your spouse has been served, they have 20 days to respond. If they don’t respond, you can proceed with a default divorce. The most common type is the uncontested hearing, which is where both parties agree to the divorce and do not contest any of the terms. However, there may also be a contested hearing, which is where one or both parties do not agree to the divorce. In this case, the Judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented.
If you and your spouse do respond, then you’ll need to attend mediation to try to reach an agreement on key issues like child custody and property division. If you can’t reach an agreement at mediation, then you’ll need to go to trial. This can be costly and time-consuming, so it’s always best to try to reach an agreement outside of court if possible.
If you’re considering getting a divorce, it’s important to speak with an attorney to understand your rights and options. An attorney can help you navigate the legal process and protect your interests.
In Florida, these are the steps in getting a dissolution of marriage:
Step 1: Filing the Petition
In a dissolution of marriage the person filing for divorce is called the “petitioner.” The petition is filed in the circuit court and will say that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” This petition is typically filed in the county where you last lived with your spouse, or the county in which you currently reside, due to separation and other complexities.
Step 2: Respondent (Other Spouse) Files an Answer to Your Petition
When the petition is filed, it must be served on the opposing spouse. Once served properly, the respondent is required to draft an “Answer” to the petition for dissolution of marriage. Once served, the respondent must have their Answer filed within twenty (20) days from the date on the proof of service. Often, there will be a counter-petition within the respondent’s Answer. This counter-petition will contain any and all agreements to the petitioner’s original filing, as well as denials of any claims they may not agree with. The respondent can also include other documents or claims for the court to consider throughout the process of the dissolution. If there is a counter-petition within the respondent’s answer, the petitioner must be properly served with the documents. The petitioner is also required to file an Answer within twenty (20) days from the date on the proof of service.
In Florida, this is also the time wherein both parties can ask for protective orders, restraining orders, temporary custody agreements, interim child support and spousal support, where applicable.
Due to the complex nature of divorce proceedings in Florida, it is advised to consult with an attorney and seek counseling throughout the process. Highly experienced attorneys such as ourselves at Kemp Ruge and Green will help their clients by communicating effectively and explaining everything along the way. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us anytime regarding these matters.
Step 3: Divorce Discovery (Process of Getting Information from Both Spouses)
The discovery process in a divorce is where an attorney can gather as much information as possible to create an appropriate, and effective, case action plan for you. It is important to hire an attorney, as it is common for one party not to disclose all assets or other pertinent information relating to the divorce. An attorney will help you uncover all aspects of the marriage, and give you the best possible outcome. These assets, and custody information can change the outcome of your case if the opposing party is hiding anything. A financial affidavit must be completed and filed with the court within 45 days of the date of service upon the respondent, which includes mandatory disclosures of the following documents:
- Proof of Income
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Retirement accounts
- Debt accounts
These can be intimidating for both parties, but with the help and knowledge of our attorneys at Kemp Ruge and Green, we can help you get through this difficult time with ease. Call us anytime for a free consultation.
Step 4: Mediation: Negotiating the Terms of the Divorce
Generally, divorce mediation is required in a dissolution of marriage case in the state of Florida. This mediation is like a court hearing, but in a more casual setting and not in court. Usually both parties are not agreeable to the terms of the opposing parties’ requests in their petition/counter-petition, which leaves key issues unresolved. In this instance, an attorney will competently represent your interests and rights under Florida law regarding division of marital assets, properties, alimony, and child support and custody. Mediation is a great tool to settle disputes amicably. If there are criminal charges involved, such as spousal abuse, domestic battery, kidnapping or any other serious issues, the state of Florida may skip the Mediation altogether.
Step 5: Child Custody Planning
If the parties have children in common, a plan for child custody must be established. Generally this planning will result in an agreement signed by both the parties, and the court. The documents for child custody will include a schedule for both parents, a percentage of time split between the parties, each parents’ involvement in the children’s lives, how communication will be handled between the parties, schooling arrangements, child health care, and any other extracurricular activities that may apply to an individual situation. These considerations are documented in order to determine child support payments, especially time sharing between parents.
Step 6: Divorce Trial (if Necessary)
Despite the efforts to settle without going to trial, if the two parties still disagree on the financial or child custodial demands of the opposing party, the case will have to proceed to trial. The trial will take place between the two parties, the parties attorneys, and a judge.
At a divorce trial, your attorney will represent you in all aspects of your claims and requests to the judge. They will protect your rights and submit all pertinent documents and evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are entitled to the appropriate division of assets and child custodies. There will be testimony taken from both parties, cross-examinations by each party, and any witnesses that may have relevant information regarding one parties’ case or claims. Once the statements are concluded, the judge will make the final decision and award the appropriate party their respective requests that were disputed throughout negotiations
Step 7: Finalizing the Divorce
The last step in a dissolution of marriage (divorce) occurs after trial, if there was one, and is finalized by the judge signing a document called “Order of Dissolution.” This order will be filed after all aspects of the dissolution reach negotiation agreements. Once this order is filed, the parties divorce is final and the marriage legally no longer exists.
Call Kemp Ruge and Green Today
When you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to have an attorney on your side. A good attorney can help you protect your rights, negotiate with the other party, and ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
There are many different aspects of divorce that an attorney can help with, including child custody and visitation, property division, alimony, and more. If you’re facing a divorce in Florida, it’s in your best interests to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the process.
We are here to help you through this painful process, and our attorneys will help guide you through this difficult time. Please do not hesitate to call us anytime, 24/7.
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