In my last post, we covered how to prepare yourself if you are considering filing for divorce. If you think your spouse may be thinking about filing, many of the same considerations apply. In addition to what was discussed previously, there are some other questions you may have, which I will try to address here.
Should I File First?
The answer to this depends on several considerations. If you feel that the two of you are likely on completely different planets and will not be able to come to an agreement on the major issues of finances, support (both child and spousal), and timesharing, then being the first to file will allow you to shape the narrative somewhat and set the tone for the divorce. The same holds if you feel that you will be able to reach an amicable agreement on these issues and you want to try to hold your spouse off from being overly aggressive in their demands.
Regardless of who files first, the other spouse has the opportunity to file a counterpetition along with their answer, so do not stress if your spouse files first.
But I Do Not Want To Get Divorced
Unfortunately, if your spouse is set on getting a divorce and will state to the court that there is nothing that can be done to save the marriage, the divorce will proceed.
Florida is a no-fault state. There are only two grounds to get divorced – mental incapacity of one spouse for a period of three years or the marriage is irretrievably broken. Even if you think the marriage can be saved, if your spouse is adamant that it cannot then the judge will grant the divorce. It is possible to draw the process out, by either convincing the judge to abate proceedings so that the two of you can attend marriage therapy (which I have never seen a judge actually do) or by refusing to participate in the process. I highly recommend that you do NOT refuse to participate! Doing so will likely accomplish only two things – it will anger your spouse and/or it will result in you not receiving what you are entitled to in the divorce.
What If My Spouse Tries To Move Out With The Children?
This may be an instance where you would be better off filing first. However, if it does happen, you can file a motion for temporary timesharing and support to make sure that your spouse does not withhold them from you.
How Am I Going To Pay For Everything If My Spouse Moves Out?
In some jurisdictions, there may be an administrative order that is sometimes called a “status quo order”. This order is there to protect a spouse who is reliant on the other spouse when it comes to things like finances and health insurance. If your jurisdiction does not have a status quo order or if your spouse is not following it then you can file a motion either to ask for support or to ask the court to order your spouse to comply with the administrative order.
This is also a good time to take an in depth look at your finances and get an idea of what the future is going to look like for you. You can use our Budget Worksheet which you can download here, or you can explore some of the many budgeting websites or apps that are available online. Two popular (and free) ones are Every Dollar by Dave Ramsey, and Mint. I have used both of these and they each have Android and IOS apps. Two others that I have seen recently but have not used are ClarityMoney and GoodBudget. Both have Android and IOS apps available, as well. Each of these work a bit differently and seem to have different complexity levels.
Which, if any, that you use is up to you. The important thing is to find a way that works for you to be able to determine what your financial future looks like. This will also assist your attorney in determining if alimony is something that you might be entitled to and, if so, what type and amount should be fought for.
When you need us, Pamela Fero Law, PLLC is here for you.