What Should I Do Before the Divorce?

Before you can get divorced you have to prove that you have a valid marriage. Before a marriage may be entered into in Florida, a marriage license must be obtained. The marriage must be solemnized by an ordained minister, elder, or other ordained clergy, a judicial officer, clerk of the circuit court or a notary public of the State of Florida.

In order to file for a divorce in Florida either you or your spouse must be a resident of the State of Florida for six months.

Florida is a no-fault state. This means that you do not have to prove fault of the other spouse in order to be granted a divorce. For example, you do not have to prove adultery, domestic violence, lack of financial support or any other “bad” behavior as a condition to getting a divorce. If your marriage is irretrievably broken and one spouse is a resident for six months, then you can file for a divorce in Florida.

Begin to gather copies of your financial documents. For example, obtain copies of personal and business tax returns, check books, bank statements, credit card statements, pay check stubs, W-2’s 1099’s. These documents will be necessary to review in handling your case.

Top 10 Things to Do Before Hiring a Lawyer

A little pre-divorce financial planning can go a long way towards making the divorce itself run more smoothly as well as providing you with additional protection. Doing your own homework can also save you money in legal fees.

  1. Mail
    Review all mail coming into your house. It is important to know the addresses of brokerage houses, insurances companies, credit card issuers, banks, etc.
  2. Change of Address
    Have your mail sent to an address other that the marital home for your privacy and to ensure you receive it. For example, a post office box or home of a close friend or relative. File a change of address notice with the post office.
  3. Bank Account and Brokerage Accounts
    Review all monthly bank statements and brokerage statements and make copies for your records.
  4. Investment and Retirement Portfolio
    Obtain copies of all investment and retirement account statements.
  5. Tax Returns
    Make complete copies of tax returns for the last three years. If you do not have them you can request a transcript of your tax returns from the I.R.S. by completing form 4506.
  6. Safe Deposit Box
    Make a written inventory and review the contents of any safe deposit box. List the contents including cash and jewelry.
  7. Business Interests
    Be familiar with your spouse’s business interests. Become involved and be aware of financial information regarding the business and obtain as much information and documents as you can.
  8. Marital Assets and Debts
    Obtain statements for all assets and liabilities. It is important to determine whether the assets of liabilities were acquired prior to or during the marriage.
  9. Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
    Obtain copies of any documents that you signed with your spouse before and after you got married.
  10. Inheritances
    Keep all inheritance separate from the marital estate. Do not put an inheritance into joint names. Obtain documentation to show the inheritance to you.