Gather All Financial Information
The first thing you should do if you are considering separating from your spouse or getting divorced is to gather all your financial information. This information should include your Income statements, W2’s, pay stubs, disability checks and any other sort of income.
Similarly, you should have an inventory of all your assets and liabilities. This should include your house, any vacation homes you may have, retirement accounts such as 401k, IRA’s, or pension plans. It would also be a good idea to have a list of liabilities such as your mortgage, credit cards, automobile loans, and bills.
Additionally, you should have any documents related to your marriage. Furthermore if applicable, you should have records of domestic violence or any prior agreements such as prenups or post-nups.
Create a Calendar of Events
The next thing you should do is create a calendar of events. You should write down events that have occurred, such as domestic violence issues and the date of separation. Additionally, if you have any children, it is imperative that you include a calendared schedule of your children’s activities. You should include information, such as which parent had the child during that time, who took them to and picked them up from school, attended appointments such as doctor or dentist appointments and any other extracurricular activities.
This is good information to have because it can be used to show your time-sharing agreement with your other spouse. Time sharing comes to play when you are negotiating time-sharing of your children and potential child support payments.
Create a new Budget
The next thing you should do is to create a new budget for yourself and your children. Previously, your household income consisted of yours and your spouse’s income. Now, you are only relying on your own income. Sometimes you can claim some sort of alimony, but it is a good idea not to consider this additional income because there is no way of knowing if a judge will grant you alimony or any other income at this point.
Separate Property and Get a PO Box
If you are like most couples, you keep joint bank accounts. You should start establishing your independence. Go to your bank and get your separate accounts. Remove your spouse from being a user of any credit cards under your name. Florida is an equitable distribution state, this means that any assets or debts acquired during the marriage is part of the marriage. You do not want your spouse to max out your credit cards after finding out that you plan on separating from them.
Similarly, if you have any joint emails or social media accounts, you should separate your account from your spouse or create a new one. It is important that you do not post anything regarding your relationship, marriage, divorce on social media if you do use social media because all that information can be used against you. The last thing you want to happen is your spouse making arguments to the court about your social media posting.
If you and your spouse are still residing together, I also advice clients to go to their local US Postal Office and rent a PO Box. PO Boxes are relatively inexpensive, they range from $7-$10 a month. It would be a good idea to have a PO Box so that any correspondence that you have is intercepted by your spouse
Consult an Attorney
Lastly, you should always consult a licensed attorney. Advice from an attorney is more beneficial than consulting with friends or family member. Attorneys knowledge of the law, they can advise you of your rights and limitations. Attorneys also have experience and know the opposing parties and Judges and can help you get an amicable outcome to your divorce.
Similarly, while attorneys understand that you are emotionally invested in your relationship or situation, your attorney can help you as a party neutral to the relationship, which means that while they are committed to helping you get the best outcome for your case, they’re not dealing with the everyday dynamics involved with a divorce. Oftentimes, clients make irrational settlement decisions with their spouse to just avoid further involvement or tension. An attorney knows your legal rights and will help you through the process.
A side note regarding consulting with an attorney: many attorneys, such as Somoza law Firm, offer free initial consultations. I recommend clients do a bit of homework and create a list of questions for their attorney. Because of divorce can be very stressful time, clients come to consultations full of questions and simply forget to ask them because they are overwhelmed or stressed with their situation. Having questions ready for your attorney will help you relieve stress and will conclude with you being more informed of the process.
If you find yourself in this circumstance where you are considering a divorce and you would like to seek legal help, please contact us right away. We’ll sit down with you, go over the details of your case, and help you to determine what the next steps should be. I urge you to make a bold move, one that you deserve, and call my firm now for a Free Consultation 305-908-8494.