How Do I Know When it Is Time to Get a Divorce?

Miami Divorce Lawyer Provides Insight On When It Might Be Time To Get a Divorce

Unfortunately, almost 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Understandably, you may not want to become part of this statistic, and the decision to file for divorce can be agonizing.

Many couples want to work through their problems and try to fix an unhappy marriage through routes such as marriage counseling. However, if everything else fails, some individuals are too anxious about the divorce process to end a marriage. Although it is a major step in your life, a divorce does not have to be a source of anxiety. If your partner is checked out and does not want to work on your marriage together, or if you are staying together purely for financial reasons or out of worries about what others may think, a divorce could be the right option for you.

Ultimately, the decision to get a divorce is one that only you can make for yourself. However, a bad marriage can be far more detrimental to your well-being and the health of you and your family than going through a divorce. A divorce also allows you to take steps towards a happier life and may lead you to a new healthy relationship in the future.

At Miami Family Law Group, PLLC, our family law attorneys can support you every step of the way if you are considering a divorce. Contact our experienced divorce attorneys at 305-520-7874 to discuss your options.

Common Reasons Marriages Break Down

Relationship experts believe that a healthy marriage requires both parties to continually work on the relationship, with regular communication, commitment, and compromise. Common reasons marriages break down and couples file for divorce in the United States include the following:

  • Communication problems.
  • A lack of commitment.
  • Incompatibility - In some situations, marital partners grow apart or feel that they have become incompatible. This can result in a lack of intimacy and poor communication and may result in a marriage breakdown.
  • Infidelity - Often, one partner will consider an extramarital affair as a deal breaker in their marriage. In some situations, a couple will choose to initially stay married following an affair. However, in many situations, infidelity continues to cause problems in the marriage and can result in divorce at a later date.
  • Abuse - Unfortunately, domestic abuse can occur in some marriages. In addition to the physical act of sexual and physical abuse, this also includes emotional abuse and verbal abuse. If you experience abuse in a marriage, contact professional help.
  • Financial problems - Financial disagreements are a common source of tension between married couples. Continued disagreements and an inability to find a middle ground can result in divorce.
  • Family conflicts - Marital stress can arise if a couple is not on the same page about key points of raising a family, such as childcare responsibilities, household obligations, and how to raise their children.

Common signs of marital issues include poor communication, changes in emotional and physical intimacy, regular arguments over the same topic, controlling behavior, avoiding each other, not listening, and not enjoying spending time together.

Regardless of the reason that you are considering a divorce, Florida is a no-fault divorce state. As such, you do not have to provide justification based on either spouse's wrongdoing to file for divorce. Instead, either spouse can cite an irretrievable marriage breakdown as the reason for a divorce.

Legal Separation in Florida

The State of Florida does not recognize legal separation. As such, there is no option for couples to file for a legal separation in Florida. Under Florida law, a couple may live apart, but they remain legally married until they have completed the divorce process and the divorce decree is finalized by a judge. Although legal separation is not an option in Florida, a couple can file for temporary orders while they go through the divorce process.

Complications can arise if a couple chooses to remain legally married but live separately. For example, if a woman gets pregnant with a new partner while still legally married, her spouse would still be considered the legal father of the child.

How Can I Prepare Before Filing for a Divorce?

If you are struggling to know whether it is time to file for divorce, a viable option is to seek outside counsel to discuss your situation. Sometimes, an impartial opinion from a friend, counselor, or family member can be a valuable tool to help you think clearly and decide on the best option. A third party's perspective may suggest things you had not previously thought of, and they can offer valuable insight into your circumstances.

If you think that you are likely to go ahead with a divorce, there are several steps you can take to prepare yourself and your affairs before filing the divorce paperwork.

Find Support

Early planning in anticipation of divorce allows you to carefully choose the correct support for you and your family to help you through the divorce process. You may wish to hire forensic accountants and financial planners to protect your financial assets. While planning for a divorce, you may also want to consider how the process will affect your children and put a plan in place to spend extra time with your children or seek support from other family members to ease the transition that divorce brings. Similarly, a family therapist may be beneficial to support you and your children.

Seek Legal Assistance

Early legal assistance can be beneficial when preparing yourself for divorce. A divorce attorney can discuss the legal process with you to ensure you understand each of the steps required and what to expect. This often eases anxiety and means you are prepared and can progress through each step more efficiently.

Unfortunately, tensions often run high between a divorcing couple, and your current spouse may behave in a manner that you would not have expected from them. To prepare for an upcoming divorce, seek legal assistance to understand how to protect yourself from your spouse's potential misconduct once they realize that divorce is imminent.

For example, although hiding assets during a divorce can lead to criminal charges, some spouses will attempt to hide property and financial assets to avoid losing them in the divorce. With legal advice, you and your attorney can develop a strategy to avoid such things in your divorce, ensuring that you do not lose out in the divorce settlement. Your attorney will also work with you to review your circumstances for any other potential risks you could face if the relationship with your spouse deteriorates.

Collect Documentation and Evidence

Collecting the required documentation can often slow down the divorce process. If the documentation is prepared in advance, this can allow proceedings to move more smoothly and reduce the stress of locating everything in the allotted time frame. In Florida, spouses have 45 days to file a financial affidavit following the initial divorce petition. Documents required include tax returns, proof of income, bank statements, assets, debts, and credit card statements.

Additional documents you will require in a divorce include mortgage statements, titles of ownership, retirement account statements, insurance documents, household bills (including those for any children, such as tuition fees), business contracts, birth certificates, and marriage licenses.

Financial Preparation

Financial preparation is essential before filing for divorce. Intermingled finances can be very problematic if either spouse becomes vindictive toward the other. In some situations, a spouse may find themselves locked out of a joint account with no access to separate funds.

To ensure you are prepared, open a separate bank account and move your personal funds from any shared accounts to the new account, but do not move your spouse's funds. Change passwords and account details to personal accounts that your spouse may be able to access. You should also consider closing joint accounts and changing the passwords for pensions and any other finances your spouse could access.

A divorce can also affect your credit score. It may be beneficial to establish your own credit and begin building your credit score in preparation. In addition, developing a budget for after your divorce can help to manage finances and ease the stress you are under through the divorce process. The budget should consider changes to your income, living situation, and childcare responsibilities.

Benefits of Filing for Divorce First

Although it can seem like a daunting step, filing for divorce first can have a range of benefits. If you file first, you are not blindsided by the divorce and can approach the process more logically, with time to prepare. Taking control and planning a divorce can help you avoid being emotionally compromised and entering into your divorce feeling stressed, hurt, and angry. Typically, if at least one spouse can remain objective and try to remove their emotions from the divorce, the process is smoother and avoids unnecessary arguments and vindictive behavior.

Additional Time to Find Support

Once the divorce petition is filed and the other spouse has been served with divorce papers, they have a limited period of time to secure legal representation and respond to the divorce papers. This can sometimes lead to rushed decisions, and it can result in average, or even poor, legal representation that may harm that spouse's case in divorce court.

If you file first, this additional time allows you to carefully select the attorney you wish to represent you and fight for the settlement you and your family deserve in your divorce. Your divorce may be the most important legal process that you go through in your life. The implications of this process may impact your financial situation permanently, while also impacting how often you see your children and where you live. It is crucial that you have the best representation possible during your divorce to ensure that your final divorce terms outline the best situation possible for you and your family.

Choosing Where to File

If you and your spouse have been living apart in separate counties, your divorce can be filed in either county. This could make your divorce process more challenging if your spouse files in a county far away from you. Typically, all legal proceedings will take place in the county where the divorce is filed. As such, you may need to travel a significant distance for all court appearances throughout your divorce. This can place a substantial burden on you at an already stressful time. However, if you file the initial divorce petition, you can choose whether the proceedings will take place in your county or your spouse's.

Controlling the Separation Date

The date you file your divorce petition with the court will be considered your separation date. This date is essential, as it can have implications for marital property and the division of assets. Any property acquired by either spouse before or after the marriage is not considered marital property and belongs exclusively to the spouse who purchased it. However, property acquired during the period of the marriage is joint, marital property in the eyes of the law.

In Florida, all marital property is subject to a fair and equitable division between spouses during a divorce. A judge may decide that a 50/50 split is fair in your situation. Alternatively, a judge can divide the property in different proportions if they believe that is fair after reviewing the specific considerations of your circumstances. Considerations that can affect the split of marital property include each spouse's financial circumstances, the duration of the marriage, each spouse's contribution to the household, and any wrongdoing that took place, to name a few.

Strategy Preparation

In many situations, once the divorce has started, the relationship between spouses can become hostile, which can affect how the divorce process progresses. Some spouses refuse to communicate, and others may make false allegations to hinder the process.

Filing first can allow you to develop a strategy for divorce with your attorney and prepare for such situations. Your attorney will work with you to pre-empt how your spouse may react and address any complications that may arise. A skilled attorney will also put in place mitigation efforts and counterarguments to minimize the effect this has on the divorce. An effective strategy is a substantial element of an efficient divorce that yields a successful outcome for you and your family.

Alleging Fault

If you are planning to allege fault during your divorce, filing first can be a crucial step to securing the desired outcome. Although Florida is a no-fault divorce state, either spouse's wrongdoing can be important to highlight in the courtroom. If successful, proof of wrongdoing can sway divorce negotiations and the final settlement in the favor of the non-fault spouse.

When you file the divorce petition first, this allows you to outline your claims of your spouse's wrongdoing and start gathering evidence to support this. A compelling body of evidence will be essential to proving your spouse's wrongdoing and ensuring that your final settlement reflects this.

For example, a judge may consider either spouse's wrongdoing when deciding the final divorce terms. A judge may weigh the division of property or spousal support in the favor of the spouse who was not at fault. Similarly, depending on the level of fault, this could implicate how child custody is assigned, particularly in situations involving domestic abuse. In addition, if you expect your spouse may allege fault against you, being the first to file can give you extra time to prepare your defense with your attorney.

Temporary Orders

Filing for divorce first gives you the first opportunity to ask the court for your proposed temporary orders. A couple can use temporary orders or relief to outline the arrangements they will follow temporarily while the divorce process is ongoing. The divorce process can often take longer than expected, particularly when disputes arise, and temporary orders can be beneficial in providing clarity to a family during this transitional time. These orders can include temporary property division, child custody, and child support arrangements.

If you file the divorce petition first, you will typically have the first opportunity to ask for temporary orders at the hearing. You will also have more time to prepare for the temporary orders hearing, which may put you at an advantage during negotiations.

Temporary orders can also have an impact on the fudge's final decision on child custody in the divorce proceedings. A judge will aim to cause as little disruption to a child's life as possible with custody arrangements, and they may decide to continue the temporary child custody orders permanently to achieve this.

Grounds for Divorce in Florida

Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that couples have two options available to them to pursue a divorce. A couple can either cite that they are filing for divorce because their marriage is irretrievably broken or because one of the parties is mentally incapacitated. To file for a divorce based on mental incapacitation, the spouse must have been incapacitated for at least three years before the divorce is filed. An experienced divorce attorney can review the specifics of your situation and advise on what approach may be right for you.

No-Fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce in Florida is based upon the understanding that a marriage is irretrievably broken. In Florida, there is no requirement to prove that a marriage is irretrievably broken. Often, it will suffice to just state this to the court.

Although Florida does not have the option for an at-fault divorce as some other states do, this does not mean that either party's wrongdoing will not influence the divorce proceedings. The judge's decision on the final settlement can be impacted by evidence of wrongdoing. As such, you and your attorney should build a compelling case with supporting evidence detailing your spouse's conduct throughout the marriage.

Contact Our Miami, Florida Divorce Petition Attorneys

Deciding whether to get a divorce is a huge decision in anyone's life. Only you can decide whether it is right for you, but do not let the fear of divorce stop you. With reputable representation, preparation, and strategy, your divorce can be as efficient as possible with minimal stress in your life. A successful divorce process can result in a fair settlement that supports you and your family moving forward and will leave you with the freedom to move on with your own life.

With representation from Miami Family Law Group, PLLC, you can feel confident that your divorce is in safe hands and that your best interests are being protected. Our divorce attorneys will be with you every step of the way, and we will fight passionately to ensure you receive the best settlement possible for you and your family. We have been helping Floridians through their divorces for over 20 years, and we are highly experienced in a range of strategies and approaches to divorces. We will work closely with you to find the best route to secure a successful outcome for you while enabling you to transition to your new life with as little stress as possible.

If you are considering divorce and would like to know more about what the process could look like for you, contact Miami Family Law Group, PLLC today at 305-520-7874.

Contact Miami Family Law Group, PLLC

Our attorneys are ready to help address your legal needs. Schedule an appointment by calling 305-520-7874 or contacting us online.

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