Thinking about divorce? Pre-divorce steps

Authored By: Florida Justice Technology Center

Some pre-divorce steps

Get help to try and save your marriage

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, take time to consider whether or not the marriage can be saved.  Do not just speak to those close to you and your spouse, but talk to a professional who is unbiased and trained to work with people in your situation.  Reach out to a marriage counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist and ask if they charge on a sliding scale (according to your income) - many do and can be affordable.  If you are not successful with one counselor think about trying another before giving up, they might just not be the right fit for you.  You can always go by yourself at first if your spouse will not agree to go.

Get a pro to help you talk to your kids

Whether or not you decide to try counseling for your marriage or yourself, you should seriously consider talking to a mental health professional if you have children and are planning to divorce.  Children are more sensitive than we often think and they may be worried.  A professional can help you figure out how to talk to them about what is happening at home, reassure them that they are not at fault, and tell them about the divorce if that is what you decide to do.  Although divorce is common in our society and adults may be used to the idea of people being divorced children are not prepared for the idea of their family changing and it can be traumatic.  Do not wait to see how children react, work together with your spouse and get advice for helping your children through this time.

Get your papers together

Gather information about your finances and belongings before you meet with a lawyer.  Also, write out a timeline with important dates in your marriage (such as when you met, married, your children’s birthdates, dates you or your spouse graduated, earned degrees, got promotions, and started or stopped important jobs). Bring all of this information with you when you meet with your lawyer for the first time.  The more prepared you are, the more a lawyer can help and the more you will be able to get out of your meeting.  You may want to get copies of these papers and take pictures of important belongings before discussions of divorce or separation with your spouse as sometimes things can go missing when belongings are divided or people's feelings are hurt.

Think about working together for breaking up

You should consider consulting with an attorney who is a collaborative law specialist.  These attorneys are specially trained for the collaborative practice of law.  In the collaborative law process both spouses agree to try to negotiate a settlement agreement regarding the issues in their divorce (instead of having a judge resolve disagreements after a trial).  The process can involve the use of experts, such as accountants and psychologists, who are independent and unbiased.  If, after working in good faith the two sides still cannot reach an agreement then they have to go through the regular contested dissolution of marriage procedure.  When this happens neither party can use the same attorney.  

Think before you post

You should not write anything or put any photograph on social media that you would not want the judge who ends up deciding your divorce case to read or see.  Lawyers and, in some cases, expert witnesses will be looking at your behavior on social media so be careful what you decide to share with others.  

Know what to expect

For information about divorce in Florida, click here.

Updated: May 9, 2017 

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