It is no secret that divorce can be a long, draining process that is difficult to navigate and can often become adversarial. After all, you are ending a relationship with someone that you presumably thought was supposed to last forever. Regardless of the individual reasons behind your divorce, many people find it difficult to maintain focus during the divorce process in a way that will benefit them. The following are some things you can do to make the divorce process run more smoothly. While no outcome is ever guaranteed in court, adhering to these tips can help you assist your attorney in making sure your rights are protected throughout the divorce process and that you can work with your attorney in achieving a desirable outcome.
Keep Detailed Records
Maintaining detailed records is important in defending against allegations your spouse might bring against you and proving your own case in court. Detailed records of spending habits and other important information can be crucial in obtaining the outcome you want from a divorce. For instance, if you and your spouse cannot agree on custody terms for a shared child or children, the court is likely to make a determination on custody based on the presumption that exists in Florida courts that a child’s best interests are served when they are able to maintain contact with both parents. However, a court will also take into consideration things like one spouse’s family providing daycare for the child, one spouse paying for tuition for a child’s education, one spouse’s salary deductions for a child’s insurance, and other factors that play into the financial cost of raising a child. While these factors may not convince a court to grant you sole custody or the specific custody schedule you wish to have, they may play into the court’s decision as to the amount of child support or alimony that could be owed to you. They can also help demonstrate the relationship each parent and his or her family has with the child should that question arise in court.
Be Aware of Financial Restrictions
There are many cases in which a Florida court will, in essence, dictate what you can and can not do with your finances during the divorce process. These are known as temporary restraining orders (“TRO”) on financial purchases. Florida courts do not generally issue TROs in divorce proceedings without one of the parties requesting it, but if a party requests such an action, then in some situations a Florida court has the power to do so without informing the other party first. These particular orders may also be used to prohibit one party from moving out of state during the divorce process and can be used to prohibit other actions, as well. It is important to keep this in mind when you are deciding whether or not to file for divorce and when to do so.
For instance, if you are considering purchasing a new car – and especially if a new car will be a necessity in the foreseeable future – it is a good idea to consider making the purchase prior to filing for divorce. Otherwise, a court might prohibit you from making certain large financial purchases while a divorce is pending. This is not to say you should go on shopping sprees prior to filing for divorce because it is also important to keep in mind that when a court is dividing assets during a divorce, they will also consider how to divide marital debt.
Even amicable divorces can be made more stressful by poor financial planning prior to filing. In some situations, it is easier and advisable for couples to sever their joint bank accounts prior to filing for divorce. Doing so can make the division of assets easier and less stressful, and can allow you to have more control over your own money throughout the divorce process and beyond. Your attorney can help you understand more about how proper financial planning can actually streamline the divorce proceedings in some instances, and can also help you steer clear of additional avoidable stress.
Keep Abreast of Your Spouse’s Finances
As much as certain court actions might inhibit your ability to make certain purchases or take certain actions, your spouse also has the same tools available in many situations. It is important to stay aware of your spouse’s financial situation during the divorce so that you can take steps to protect your own finances and future. If your spouse elects to spend a great deal of money prior to filing for divorce because they are aware that divorce is inevitable, it is important to be proactive in preventing them from doing so. Additionally, your spouse’s financial situation can directly impact matters related to alimony and/or child support. It is important that you have an idea of his or her income, personal debt, and other important financial aspects so that your attorney has accurate information to advocate for your needs. If you are struggling to obtain this important information, either because you do not know what information might be important or because your spouse is uncooperative in providing pertinent information, your attorney can work with you to make sure that you can get access to it.
Stay Positive (Online and in Real Life)
At least once a month, we hear a story on the evening news about an individual that committed an illegal act and was caught because of his or her activity on social media. While you may not end up serving prison time because of your online posts during a divorce, they can be just as damaging. For example, posting negative things about your spouse and his or her family can have a significant impact on a court’s custody determination because Florida courts expect both parents to continue working together in a positive way for their children after divorce. Constantly badmouthing your spouse to your child or to others may also have the same effect and can weaken your custody argument. Even in cases in which no children are involved, poor choices on social media or in real life when it comes to discussing your soon-to-be ex-spouse or the intimate details of your relationship can damage your ability to secure assets and other things that might otherwise be available to you during the divorce process.
Courts also frown upon painting a spouse as a villain. Not only can this make you look bad and as if you do not care about your child’s relationship with the other parent, it just surrounds you with negative energy that takes away from your focus on the positive goals of your divorce. Additionally, there can be legal implications for posting false, misleading, or sensitive personal information about someone online that could result in severe consequences. Be aware that your conversations are not always private and even comments made under your breath can be taken to heart by children or others involved in the divorce. Additionally, whenever you post on social media, remember that no matter how private you think the information you are sharing might be, it is not.
Mediation and Courtroom Alternatives Can Help
Even in situations in which spousal communication has broken down to a point where each person has found it impossible to effectively communicate with the other, things like divorce mediation can help. An unbiased third party can help people vocalize their emotions and desires more effectively, and doing so can allow both spouses to feel as if they are actually being heard. This small step can break down a lot of walls to effective communication and can enable both spouses to have more personal control over the divorce process. While mediation can not always solve every issue in the divorce process, it can resolve many of them and result in you needing to spend less time in court. Less time in court ultimately saves you money and time and can go a long way toward improving your relationship with your spouse because mediation tends to be less adversarial. You are not bound to any agreements reached during mediation, but it is a method for you to understand more about your spouse’s position and vice versa.
Talk to Your Attorney
Effective, continuous communication with your attorney is essential to achieving the best outcome possible during divorce. Not every person will get exactly what they want from a divorce, but your goal in divorce was likely to achieve a better situation for you and your family. That takes time to build, and your attorney can help you maintain your focus on that long-term goal. Being open and honest with your attorney helps them understand your individual situation, advocate for you effectively, and work with you to achieve a fair outcome. If you have questions about how divorce might affect you or have already made the difficult choice to pursue a Florida divorce and want to know more about potentially making the process less stressful, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation.