You’ve handled a lot of paperwork in your life: letters, bills, contracts, etc. However, few of these documents have the same emotional and financial impact as the divorce papers that have just been handed to you.
When your spouse files for divorce, your life is going to change. When a relationship is unhappy, this change is for the better in the long run, but to prepare for your new future, there are steps you need to take to prepare practically, financially, and emotionally.
How to Prepare Emotionally
Let’s talk about this one first, because your initial response to the divorce paperwork will be emotional.
If you and your spouse were arguing a lot or subjecting one another to the silent treatment, you’re probably going to feel relieved at first. No more cold shoulders, slamming doors, or silent dinners while the kids look on.
Then grief will gradually set in. When you said, “I do,” you thought you’d be together forever. What happened? You may start to feel angry at your spouse and yourself for failing to make it work.
What’s important is that you don’t deal with these feelings alone. Put the divorce papers down and call someone. It can be your best friend, your parents, your therapist- anyone who is there to talk and support you immediately. As the divorce process unfolds, be prepared to reach out to them again and again. They can help you deal with your emotions so that you make the right decisions about your future.
How to Prepare Practically
Now that your spouse has initiated divorce proceedings, there are practical issues to consider. How will you tell the kids? If one of you hasn’t moved out yet, who will it be?
The answers to these questions can have legal ramifications, so refrain from any major decision-making until you’ve retained a divorce attorney. Your lawyer will advise you how to talk to your children in an age-appropriate manner and deal with any attempts that your spouse may make to alienate them from you.
Unlike some states, Florida law does not address the concept of abandonment when leaving the marital home, but if you choose to move out while the divorce is being settled, your spouse could be seen as the primary caregiver of the children and have a custody advantage. Don’t look for an apartment or move in with family until you’ve spoken to a lawyer.
If the divorce papers include a temporary custody order, contact an attorney immediately to protect your rights as a parent.
How to Prepare Financially
Divorce has major financial ramifications. There used to be a single household with two incomes, and now you have to prepare for a different reality, one that requires budgeting and separate bank accounts and credit cards. If you gave up your career aspirations to raise a family, you can pursue spousal support until you’re financially self-sufficient.
If you and your spouse can’t agree on child or spousal support or how to divide marital finances, the court can make appropriate orders, but will need to see certain documentation related to household income and debts, such as:
- Checking and savings account statements
- Recent pay stubs
- Income tax returns
- Credit card statements
- Mortgage and auto loan statements
- Retirement and investment account statements
Collect this information as soon as possible and provide it to your attorney. If your spouse handled the household finances and is being uncooperative, your attorney will need to know that too.
At the FAB Law Firm, LLC, we have helped many clients make effective decisions about their divorce. We will guide you so that you leave the marriage with your parental rights and financial well-being intact. To learn more, give us a call at (888) 262-1618.