After more than 20 years of being a practicing attorney focused primarily on family law, I would like to share some important insights about the divorce process.
Time-sharing is a schedule of how the children will spend time with each parent. Unless otherwise notified, the court assumes that both parents are “good parents” and have no issues that affect their ability to parent their children. However, if your spouse has problems that call into question his or her ability to parent the children safely, you may need to think about a supervised or safety-focused parenting plan.
Many people routinely share personal details about their lives online, where countless numbers of people can see them. When you’re going through a divorce or other family law proceeding, it might be tempting to post insults about your ex or vent to your online “friends.” But keep in mind that unless you have configured privacy settings on your social media profiles, chances are your ex and his or her attorney also are reading your posts.
If you have made the very difficult decision to end your marriage and seek a divorce, you probably have questions about the divorce process. You might be confused about what you have to do to file for divorce, what happens once you file, and what you can expect as the case progresses.
Before you alert your spouse about a potential divorce, it is a good idea to gather documents, take inventory of property and keep proper records. Collecting as much accessible information as possible in advance will give you an “insurance policy” so that you can be sure that your spouse completely discloses important financial and property information that is relevant to your divorce.
If you have decided to hire an attorney to represent you through the divorce process, you should make sure that you select the right attorney for your specific needs and that you understand how to work with your attorney. Attorney selection can be a huge part of whether your case is “successful” or not, and this is one of the times where it is necessary for you to do your homework.
If you represent yourself during your divorce or family law matter, then you are considered a pro se party. If you choose to proceed without an attorney, the court, generally, will hold you to the same rules as an attorney, including applicable evidence rules at any hearings or trial. Additionally, as a pro se party, the court in general will hold you to any agreements that you enter into in your case. That means if you do not like what happened in your case, you usually cannot claim later that because you did not have the benefit of an attorney you did not know what you were signing or agreeing to, or that you made a mistake in how you handled something. The court cannot give you legal advice, so you will be held to your mistakes. Further, if you act as your own attorney, you will have to continue to deal with your spouse and his or her attorney on all of the issues in your case. This can cause further stress and strain on an already broken marriage or relationship, and it can cause additional stress on you.
The first and most obvious question that you should ask yourself before you begin a divorce is do you really want a divorce? Under Florida law, the legal requirement for divorce is simple—the court must find that your marriage is “irretrievably broken” prior to dissolving the marriage. From a practical standpoint, whether your marriage is irretrievably broken depends primarily on yours or your spouse’s view of the status of your marriage. If you are potentially considering a divorce, the very first thing that you should resolve is your level of certainty that you either cannot or will not save or fix your marriage. If you have resolved that issue, then you could testify to the court that your marriage is irretrievably broken and satisfy the legal requirement.