Divorce is no simple task. It requires a strategic approach, and being unprepared is the worst position you can be in. Orlando Family Team knows that divorce is likely the most stressful and consequential event of your life. That’s why we meet with our clients, understand the ins and outs of their situation, and prepare a comprehensive case. We also believe in working directly with the client as we put together a legal strategy. To that end, we’ve assembled a divorce to-do list for potential clients.
Whether you’re the plaintiff or defendant, this to-do list is a starting point for how to get ready for your divorce. When you’re ready to proceed with your case, give Orlando Family Team a call and we can schedule your consultation.
Divorce To-Do List
Determine All Of The Issues
Divorce is not simply the legal dissolution of your marriage. You will have to determine how everything else arising from your marriage is to be settled. Here’s a quick run-down of the main issues you’ll need to address with your attorney:
- Residency. Either you or your spouse will need to have been a resident of Florida for at least six months prior to the date the divorce action is filed.
- Property and debts. Marital property and debts have to be settled in a process known as equitable distribution. It needs to be brought up in either your divorce complaint or the answer to your spouse’s complaint.
- Spousal support. Also known as alimony, this is another issue you will need to consider and assert in either the complaint or the answer.
- Child custody and visitation. If you and your spouse have children together, child custody and visitation will have to be addressed.
- Child support. Likewise, you should discuss all aspects of child support with your attorney, including any extraordinary expenses.
- Restoration of maiden name. If you wish to restore your maiden name, there are several ways to go about it. But the easiest is to include it in the final divorce judgment.
Gather Necessary Documents
There are numerous documents you will need to start gathering right now, including:
- Birth certificates (including your children’s)
- Social Security cards (including your children’s)
- Marriage certificate
- Prior divorce judgments
- Death certificates if either spouse was previously widowed
- Separation, prenuptial, or postnuptial agreements you and your spouse entered into
- Estate planning documents
Work and Financial Records (for you and your spouse)
- Employment contracts
- Pay stubs
- Tax forms such as W-2s and 1099s
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Retirement account records
- Brokerage account records
- Your household budget
Property and Vehicle Records (for you and your spouse)
- Mortgage records
- Utility records
- Titles and other documents pertaining to any land owned free and clear
- Leases for any rented properties
- Life, health, automobile, and homeowners insurance policies
- Loan documents, including financing agreements for automobiles
- Titles to any vehicle, boat, or RV
- A list of household furniture and appliances
- A list of valuable items such as artwork and collections
- A list of any items stored in a safe deposit box
- Records pertaining to any property you believe is separate (non-marital)
Business Records (for you and your spouse)
- Federal, state, and local business tax returns
- Profit and loss statements
- Balance sheets
- Financial statements
- Corporate records, including articles of incorporation and bylaws
- Partnership agreements
- Shareholder agreements
- Business bank account records
- Business credit card account records
- Business insurance policies
- Business contracts
- Business debts and liabilities
- Judgments or liens against the business
- Deeds, mortgages, leases, and other real property records pertaining to the business
Gather Relevant Evidence
If allegations of fault, such as adultery, are involved, it’s a good idea to start documenting this. Any photographs, videos, social media posts, letters, notes, emails, text messages, and other digital and electronic records could be useful.
Establish Personal Credit
Divorce often brings financial difficulties and unexpected expenses. You will need to start now in building your personal credit if you don’t already have it. This will help you be financially independent during and after the divorce.
Consider Closing Joint Accounts
Joint accounts are tricky situations during divorce. On the one hand, one spouse can raid the bank accounts or start running up joint credit card debts before a judge can issue any sort of order disallowing it. But on the other hand, closing bank accounts and moving money to protect yourself can lead to an accusation that you are trying to hide marital assets. If the other party is dependent upon spousal support, closing a joint credit card account can make it appear that you were trying to deprive that person of a necessary financial lifeline. Every case is different and should be discussed in-depth with an attorney as soon as possible.
Evaluate Your Legal Options with Your Divorce To-Do List
Some parties can work out most issues arising from their marriage, like division of marital property and child custody, by way of a separation agreement. Where this is an option, it can save considerable time and money. For other parties, mediation may be a necessary but viable way to resolve your differences with your spouse. Still another option is collaborative divorce, a carefully structured approach whereby the spouses work toward a mutually beneficial outcome to the marriage. You and your spouse have options for handling the divorce other than protracted and stressful court proceedings.
How Orlando Family Team Can Help You with Your Divorce To-Do List
The above list is to help you get started with your divorce case, and more to-do items may be necessary for your particular circumstances. At Orlando Family Team, we’ve worked with numerous clients through all sorts of divorce situations. We will customize an approach that works best for you and protects your rights and interests throughout this difficult time in your life. Let us get started on your divorce case today. Call us to speak with our dedicated team and set up your consultation.