The decision to file for divorce is a big decision. And there are a few things to consider before you file.

First, we encourage our clients to seek a counselor or therapist for themselves and their children as a divorce is a big life change. It can be a very difficult time navigating the physical, mental and emotional changes that accompany a divorce and having the support of a licensed mental health professional can be invaluable.

Additionally, we advocate that our clients consider the following things before filing for divorce:

1. Understand the Legal Process.

There are a lot of questions you likely have when preparing to file for divorce. The two most common we hear is when should I file and what does the divorce process look like. Additionally, you may want to know if you will keep the house, when will you see your children, and will you get spousal support.

Also, consider that in Florida you may choose a simplified or uncontested dissolution of marriage versus processing with a contested dissolution of marriage. Understanding the legal process allows you to be prepared and make an informed decision for you and your family.

2. Gather Important Documents.

In Florida, each party is required to exchange certain information when proceeding with a divorce that involves property, spousal support and child support issues. It is helpful to begin gathering relevant documents as soon as possible. Tax returns, income information, property deeds, investments, retirement funds and credit card statements are just a few of the important documents that parties are required to gather and exchange. Additionally, each party is required to complete a Financial Affidavit. Starting to gather documents early allows you to be prepared and alleviates some pressure to meet deadlines during the divorce process.

3. Make a Financial Plan.

The divorce process can be expensive and will likely involve attorney fees, court costs and potentially other experts. Hiring an domestic violence attorney to help navigate the process will often help in getting the best outcome possible for you and your family, however, you need to determine how you will afford attorney fees and costs.

Additionally, you should also consider how your living expenses may change once the divorce process begins and what life may look like when the divorce is finalized. If you stay in the marital home, will you be responsible for the mortgage, electric and other bills associated with the home? If you move out, what amount of rent can you afford on your income alone? Review your income, your expenses and any savings you may have in order to make a budget and plan for your divorce. Many clients rely on family, friends and credit cards when facing a divorce.

4. Prepare Your Children.

It is important to consider how your divorce will impact your children. You may be surprised how your divorce will impact all your children differently, even your adult children will be impacted. Your children may feel angry, frustrated, confused and sad. And they may express different emotions at different times. Make a plan with your spouse to tell them about the divorce and encourage open, honest communication through the whole process.

Every divorce is unique. It is important to prepare for the process before you make any big decisions. Contact our office to answer your questions and assist you in making your plan.