Preparing for Divorce
Top Ten List: Things To Do Before The Divorce Is Filed
The Top Ten List of “Things to Do” before a Divorce is filed, is based upon my many years of experience and seeing clients who have not fully appreciated the legal process and what the court system expects of them. Anyone who is about to enter this legal process should possess the insight needed to be able to address the challenges ahead. My Top Ten List is:
Number One: Hire the Best, Most Qualified, Experienced Lawyer
Embarking, planning, or handling a divorce by yourself, is no place for amateurs. If you fail to get the kind of professional help, guidance, and assistance you need, you will find that the decision to “go it alone” may prove to be the biggest mistake you ever made in planning and getting a divorce. The decisions you make without having a lawyer on your side can oftentimes mean that you have made decisions that irreparably undermine and damage your rights, forever! In the absence of being able to reach full agreements, always hire an attorney who has spent many years in the Domestic Family Law arena of law, who has dedicated his or her career to clients just like you and who is a specialist in this area of the law.
Number Two: Gather Important Records & Understand All of the Financial Issues
It is absolutely imperative that anyone about to go through a divorce has a thorough knowledge of the finances. The more preparation time you spend gathering documents, researching the value of assets and debts, the better you will be. It will not be an excuse to simply say, “My spouse handled all of the money issues.” Understand your Monthly Expense/Debt/Income Budget and prepare an excel spreadsheet of the same or have your accountant help you with that. Read, copy and understand all Tax Records and Returns, Business Records, Real Estate Documents, Valuations of all Assets (Homes, Cars, Boats, ATV's, etc. ), Monthly Expense Statements, Credit Card and Loan Statements, Bank Statements, Retirement Accounts and IRA's, Life Insurance Statements, Auto, Home and other kinds of insurance premiums and costs, Gifts and Inheritances statements, Trust Accounts, Health Insurance Benefits, and Coverages, Wills, and All other records that are pertinent to the marriage, inclusive of pre-marital property or separate property.
Number Three: Open Up Your Own Checking, Savings, and Credit Card Accounts
You may need to get these kinds of accounts set up before a divorce case is filed because of various legal constraints. If you wait too long, a judge could order that neither party may be permitted to open up accounts until after the case is finalized, which could be many months away. Another important consideration is that the non-wage earner spouse should make every effort to open up a separate credit card before the case is filed and establish a line of credit needed to finance the divorce and pay for litigation costs and separate Attorney's Fees, if necessary.
Number Four: Talk to Your Children
Read important articles and seek out professional help about how you should address the divorce with your children. You should get a handle on the emotional impact the divorce will have with respect to the children, very early in the case, so that if the children need a professional of their own to talk to, that can be arranged well enough in advance. In Florida, it will be extremely rare to find a situation where a child will be allowed to provide information or input to a judge in that child's parent's divorce. A therapist or counselor may be allowed to advise the judge as to the specific needs, problems, and emotional concerns of the parties' children.
Number Five: If Possible, Talk to Your Spouse About the Finances
In this way, you and your spouse can determine the best way to maintain the financial status quo on the monthly payment of bills, expenses, loans, debts, etc. Trying to come up with a plan to preserve the standard of living, leading up to the divorce is critical as neither party should be financially at risk of being unable to pay for necessities like housing or food during this difficult time. Since most judges do not consider the lack of agreements as to maintaining the financial status quo, as an “emergency,” the more planning you do, the better. Make a plan and stick to it.
Number Six: Plan Your Own Future: Come Up with a Plan for Surviving on Your Own after the Divorce Becomes Final
Whether this means you need to go back to school or obtain a college degree, take courses to obtain a certification or find a career path, this needs to be considered in full. Because it will be unlikely that a judge will that the non-wage earner/lower-income wage earner, receive Spousal Support for a lifetime, an plan for “financial independence” needs to be made. It is always suggested that you begin to build your plan, as early on, in the process as possible, and seek out professional help from accountants or financial planners, in addition, to help from your lawyer. Remember a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator may be able to assist the parties in reaching agreements to that attorney and court fees are reduced or not needed.
Number Seven: Avoid Domestic Violence Conflicts
All too often, in the heat of the moment during an argument or discussion or even a property exchange, one or both of the parties becomes involved in Domestic Violence. At all costs, avoid direct encounters with your spouse when you know ahead of time, that there may be even the slightest hint of a domestic violence incident. If you and your spouse can not talk civilly to each other and treat each other with dignity and respect, do not engage in contact. It is very common, either prior to or after the filing of a divorce or custody case, to see a husband or wife arrested for Domestic Violence, and these kinds of incidents do not need to happen if you are smart and can avoid the pitfalls. In cases where there are children, Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse may be an issue when one of the parties' has been arrested, charged, or convicted. As a precaution, always plan any encounters with your spouse, by having a friend or relative go with you, or meet in a public place.
Number Eight: Address Major Health Concerns Before a Case Becomes Final
Since health, dental, vision, mental health, and other kinds of health care insurance may change after the divorce becomes final, now is the time to address any health concerns, or surgical needs, while there exists coverage to provide for those needs. Under Federal law, once a spouse becomes a “former spouse” the insurance provider can deny a claim for benefits, leaving the party without insurance coverage the financial burden of paying for uninsured health benefits.
Number Nine: What are the Expected Child Support Costs and Other Child Related Expenses
Establish a clear understanding of what kinds of expenses are going to be needed to provide care for the children, including extra-curricular expenses, health care, dental care, emotional care, out-of-pocket expenses, daycare, post-secondary education costs, and planning, etc.
Number Ten: Establish and Keep a List of Goals and Objectives for Future Planning after the Divorce Becomes Final
Many say that having “goals” that are personal to you will help you focus on the future and not be diverted by the emotional strain of going through this process. Objectives and Goals for Future Strategic Planning can assist you in focusing on your priorities, once the finality of the divorce occurs.
What You Need to Bring to Court
Preparation in advance of filing for divorce entails financial planning, child custody arrangements, and alimony. During this stressful time, decisions should be made with help of an experienced Family Law lawyer who can protect your best interests and help you navigate through the process with critical advice. Gordon N. Shayne has extensive knowledge and legal experience to help you prepare and successfully execute a divorce in Florida State Court.
Preparing for Divorce: Documents You Need
Financial disclosure statements will be needed and can greatly assist you in this process. These statements contain the kind of information regarding the parties' incomes, property, debts, retirement accounts, etc.
By preparing for divorce properly and obtaining representation from a lawyer who can effectively present your case, you can help secure your financial future after your divorce. Financial planning is essential. Whether it is an uncontested divorce or contested divorce, financial planning is essential to securing alimony, child support, and other kinds of support. Expert family law attorneys can also assist you in the following ways:
Creating a projected budget:
Gordon N. Shayne can help you create a document that demonstrates income and expenses so the court is aware of what your finances will be like when the marriage ends.
Obtaining projected cost estimates:
Living without the Alimony of your spouse may mean that you have to go back to school or obtain specialized training for a new career. As your attorney, Gordon N. Shayne can help you create a document that estimates how much college or vocational school will be if you believe that going back to school or obtaining a degree or specialized training is necessary.
Obtaining housing expense estimates:
If you are seeking Alimony, you will need to provide an accurate estimate of housing expenses, such as the rent and utilities that you will be expected to pay once you are on your own. Mr. Shayne can help you organize these documents and communicate their significance to the court.
Organizing health insurance:
You may be entitled to health coverage, even if your spouse was the primary beneficiary. Gordon N. Shayne can help you obtain documentation that will help you fight for COBRA coverage if you are currently on your spouse's health insurance.
Obtaining child care estimates:
If you will be working to support yourself and your children, you may need to enlist the help of child care professionals. This cost can be calculated into child support worksheets.
Because the circumstances of every divorce are unique, Gordon N. Shayne provides personalized attention to every client. He can give you specific instructions pertaining to your case after getting to know you personally at your free* initial consultation.
Obtain a Proficient Divorce Attorney
When you choose Gordon N. Shayne as your attorney, he brings over 33 years of hard-earned legal experience to your case. Mr. Shayne understands what is at stake for you and your family and the judicial process. He is a proven advocate who will fight for your rights are being protected. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation so you can be prepared for court.
Divorce Preparation is essential to achieving your desired legal outcomes.
*for those individuals interested in retaining legal counsel and who have the financial means to hire an attorney