Getting Ready for Divorce
When a decision to file for divorce has been made, it is important to realize that much preparation goes into the process, no matter who files or when the divorce is filed. If you are in a situation where you are planning to file for divorce or you anticipate your spouse will file, it is essential to get prepared now. To be sure, you will not want to be rushing or stressed as you begin to locate important documents or to track down information you need in order for your divorce to go as smoothly as possible. How should you get ready? An experienced Jacksonville divorce attorney at The Lasky Law Firm can assist you.
Obtain Evidence of Residency
The first piece of evidence which is needed in Florida is proof of residence for one of the parties. In Florida, a driver’s license issued in Florida with an issue date at least six months prior to the filing date is prima facie evidence of residency. If you do not have this, speak to your counsel as an alternate Affidavit of Residency can be prepared on your behalf and filed in lieu of a driver’s license. Please note, active duty military and their family members have special exceptions as set forth in the SCRA. It is important to have competent representation to help you navigate through this step if you have a question about residency.
Understanding Financial Disclosure
In Florida, the controlling statutes and rules require Mandatory Disclosure of all financial records for both parties for a period of time sufficient to establish all marital assets and liabilities, and if there are special interests or equities, then additional financial evidence will need to be provided. Some couples maintain separate bank and financial accounts and they consider their financial records to be confidential. This is not the case in Florida. Again, Florida mandates full financial disclosure in all divorces. It is important to realize this aspect of divorce so that you are not shocked when asked to do so. There are some exceptions such as with some Simplified Divorces or Uncontested Divorces, but typically, each party must file a Financial Affidavit, which is done under oath and penalties of perjury. Be prepared to disclose this information.
Knowing how to control legal fees
It is impossible to know how much a divorce will cost at the beginning of the process. There are many factors which will impact the cost. For example, are there children and issues involving children to resolve? Are there complex property issues? Are there any other cases pending which might impact the divorce proceedings such as a Domestic Violence Case or Criminal Case? Finally, what is the level of acrimony between the parties? These are but a few factors that can complicate and delay the process, and in doing so, drive up the cost of divorce.
Notwithstanding, you can work with your counsel to help control your fees. Some ways to do that are as follows: First, be organized. Gather the financial records and evidence which your counsel requests that you gather. Do it in an organized fashion and provide all documents at once, if possible. Avoid duplicate submissions of the same information. If you have questions, rather than exchanging many emails or phone calls, make a list of questions and schedule time to speak with your counsel or send an email with all the questions at once. This will limit the communications and help to control fees. Please keep in mind, all emails sent to your attorney or paralegal are billed at the regular hourly rate for that person, so keep all communications as efficient as possible.
Also, where possible, attempt to maintain the financial status quo in the marriage as the divorce is pending, as required by the court. Likewise, work hard to maintain a civil and respectful relationship with your spouse, if possible, because acrimony only leads to prolonged litigation and more fees and costs.
Important Financial Documents
Below is a list, which is not exhaustive, but which contains some of the relevant financial and personal documentation each party will be asked to produce, working back a number of years:
- Tax returns from the past three years;
- Wage statements, W-2s, and 1099s from the past years;
- Bank account statements;
- Records of investments; and
- Mortgage documents that provide detailed information about real property.
- Deeds or other documents reflecting ownership of real property
Contact a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer Today
If you have questions about the divorce process under Florida law, or if you want to learn more about planning and filing for divorce, one of the experienced Jacksonville divorce attorneys at The Lasky Law Firm can speak with you today. Contact us to discuss your situation and to learn more about your options.