What To Do Before Filing For Divorce
When it comes to relationships, sometimes you just know when the end is near. Breaking up with someone is a lot easier when you’re not married. When you’re married, you have to get a divorce, which can be quite overwhelming, to say the least.
If you truly want a divorce, you should start planning for one now. There’s a lot that needs to be done, so here’s where to start.
Hire a Lawyer
While you can technically divorce without a lawyer, it’s really hard to do so unless you and your spouse can agree on everything — and that usually does not happen. So it’s a good idea to start looking for a lawyer as soon as you decide to get divorced. At the very least, you can understand your legal options and see if the lawyer can get you the outcome you desire.
Get Your Finances in Order
Florida recognizes equitable distribution law, which means marital assets and debts are split fairly. Therefore, you need a clear picture of your and your spouse’s financial situation. This means understanding what you own, such as vehicles, homes, and bank accounts. Don’t forget that retirement accounts, furniture, collections, artwork, and other assets may need to be split as well.
You’ll need to determine what you owe as well. Your credit report can show what debts you have and the amounts. Debts are often divided based on ability to pay.
You’ll also need proof of income, as this will help with property division and child support matters. Gather pay stubs and income tax returns. If you or your spouse owns a business, proving income may be a little harder. Check to see if there are financial statements available. Bank statements may also be helpful. If you don’t have an idea of your spouse’s income, your lawyer can help.
Close Joint Accounts
If possible, you should pay off and close all joint credit accounts. This will keep your spouse from running up charges that you may have to pay for later on. If you can’t pay the accounts in full, you may be able to negotiate with a creditor to pay less than what is owed on an account.
If you are not able to pay off the balances owed or come to a settlement agreement, you should freeze the accounts. This will keep the account from being used until the divorce is final.
Decide to Stay or Move Out
Generally, it is better to stay in the marital home until the divorce has been finalized. Moving out beforehand can affect child custody and property division. However, your health and safety should be priorities, so if there is abuse involved, get out as soon as possible.
Seek Legal Help
Once you make the decision to divorce, you may not know the next steps. By working with a lawyer and a financial professional, you can make sure you are on the right track.