Getting a divorce can be a challenge. Emotions run high, finances run low, and the legal hassle doesn’t let you sleep tight at night. A prize? The longed freedom from the outworn relationship.
Sadly, all of this would make no sense if you don’t even know where to start.
Many divorcees – especially if this is their first time – think that getting a divorce starts with a petition. Legally, this might be true. In practice, however, any successful divorce process begins long before that – with solid preparation.
This is the beginner’s guide for divorcing couples. Here you will find out what the first step in getting a divorce is, see the process from the inside, and learn what you can do to ensure a better outcome.
Build a Detailed Divorce Checklist in Advance
When it comes to divorce, excessive openness and sincerity may fall short. It doesn’t mean that you have to deceive and play your partner. But doing some secret preparation before you voice the important decision may do a good service to you both. Therefore, once the choice is made, make sure that devising a detailed checklist will be your first step in getting a divorce.
What should your highlight in your divorce preparation checklist?
- The type of divorce process you can count on. In Florida, you can go through a simplified, uncontested, or contested divorce. This will largely depend on the relationship with your spouse, your ability to come to an agreement, and having or not having minor children in the marriage. For instance, if you are a couple with no children, no issues to argue upon, and both willing to call it quits, you can go for a fast Florida divorce and go separate ways as soon as in 30 days. However, if you feel that your spouse won’t give it an easy ride, it’s better to start preparing for a contested divorce beforehand.
- How secured your assets are. You want to be sure that you have access to all family bank accounts and the rights for the marital assets before the conflict heats up.
- Child custody. If you are a stay-at-home mother of three kids who won’t be able to support her kids after the divorce, you risk losing the custody rights in favor of your spouse. Perhaps, it’s better to start looking for a job now to have an edge when the issue arises.
- Documentation. In divorce, a lot depends on the flawless paperwork – from simply the process duration to who gets the kids. Take some time to do research and collect all necessary papers. The more prepared you are, the better the divorce outcome you can expect.
- Legal Help. If the divorce will be contested, most likely you will need an attorney – especially if the other spouse already hired one. The checklist will help you decide on the candidacy of your legal representative, as well as calculate the costs you are likely to bear.
Once your divorce preparation checklist is complete, you are ready to take your legal steps to getting a divorce. To start with, talk to the other party and let him/her know of your decision.
What Is the Process of Getting a Divorce?
You may both decide that you qualify for a simplified divorce. Then you need to file a Petition of Divorce along with your financial affidavits with the court. After the 20-day waiting period, the judge will finalize your marriage dissolution.
If you have kids but you agree on property, custody, debts, and other issues upon divorce, you can go through an uncontested procedure. Similarly, you need to submit the petition along with other necessary papers, including the Marital Settlement Agreement. The divorce will be finalized after a 3-month waiting period.
Spouses who can’t reach an agreement on some or all issues upon the divorce must go through a contested divorce procedure. In this case, these are your first steps:
- Obtain a blank form of the Petition of Divorce. To start a divorce process, a Petitioner must obtain a blank form of petition and complete it with relevant information. To do so, you can receive the form in the building of the court or download it from the internet. Some websites may even offer consultancy and their assistance in preparing the necessary package of documents. So, if you can’t figure out how to do it yourself but a lawyer seems too expensive, hiring an online professional may be quite reasonable.
- File the Petition with the court. Once the papers are complete, they must be submitted to the relevant court. If you are doing it yourself, make sure that you’ve chosen the right court, which has jurisdiction over your case. Otherwise, papers may be returned and the divorce process delayed.
- Serving the papers. While serving the papers to the other spouse is not your responsibility, providing up-to-date information about his/her whereabouts is. Therefore, make sure you specify the right address about where he may be found. If the spouse has suddenly gone missing, consider divorce by publication.
As soon as the other party signs the papers, the court will start a discovery process to study the details of the case such as financial situations of the spouses, their assets and property rights, their parental situations, and other issues arising from this divorce.
Especially when there are minor kids in the marriage, the court may oblige spouses to go through mediation for the mental well-being of every member of the family. As much as the mediation may concern the parental plan, it can also help the parties to solve their property issues if the conflict takes place.
The last step of a divorce process is the final hearing. During the final trial, a judge will consider all evidence collected and hear the depositions of both parties. At the end of the trial, the decision of divorce will be finalized.