Divorce Planning

Posted on February 28th, 2017

Most people who get married never plan for the possibility that one day they will get divorced. If you are married and for whatever reason feel that divorce is becoming more likely as time passes then you should be aware of some important principles no matter if you are the husband or the wife. Divorce planning becomes important and can make a big difference.

Important Things to Remember When You Start Planning

Dating: Don’t do it! I do not recommend that you begin dating nor do I recommend that you change your status from married to single until you are in fact divorced not simply separated. I do not recommend room mate arrangements just as I do not recommend moving anyone into your residence. There is a time and place for everything and now is not the right time to change the chemistry of your home environment. Change will happen soon so let it happen without causing yourself trouble down the road.

Social Media: I highly advise against using social media to post comments about your relationship or its status, about your spouse or about any legal proceeding or judicial officers under any circumstances. Social media comments last forever, are easily misconstrued and may be used against you. These comments amount to different forms of statements and sometimes admissions that are usually admissible in court.

Employment: Income and expenses are reported on a financial affidavit which both parties must complete, sign under oath, and file in every divorce case. In families where there are minor children, the income of both the husband and the wife must be verified in order to calculate child support and/or spousal support. In cases where one of the spouses is not employed, the law authorizes the court to impute income to that spouse which means that income will be attributed to a spouse for support purposes even if unemployed. It must be understood that the child support guidelines are premised under policy that requires both parents to financially support their children no matter what the time-sharing arrangement may be.

Financial disclosure: For divorce planning purposes, you should be aware that Florida law requires full and complete financial disclosure. For divorce planning it is important to know that both parties will be required to produce copies of the following documents for the relevant time periods listed.  These documents must usually be exchanged within 45 days.

  1.  Financial Affidavit, (See form number 12.902(b) if your annual income is less than $50,000, or form 12.902 ( c) if your annual income is equal to or greater than $50,000)
  2.  All personal (1040) federal and state tax income returns, gift tax returns, and intangible personal property tax returns for the preceding 3 years; IRS forms W-2, 1099, and K-1 for the past year because the income tax return for the past year has not been prepared.
  3.  Pay stubs or other evidence of earned income for the 3 months before the service of the financial affidavit.
  4.  A statement identifying the source and amount of all income for the 3 months before the service of the financial affidavit, if not reflected on the pay stubs produced.
  5.  All loan applications and financial statements prepared for any purpose or used for any purpose within the 12 months preceding the service of the financial affidavit.
  6.  All deeds to real estate in which I presently own or owned an interest within the past 3 years. All promissory notes in which I presently own or owned an interest within the last 12 months. All present leases in which I own an interest.
  7.  All periodic statements for the last 3 months for all checking accounts and for the last year for all savings accounts, money market funds, certificates of deposit, etc.
  8.  All brokerage account statements for the last 12 months.
  9.  Most recent statement for any pension, profit sharing, deferred compensation, or retirement plan (for example, IRA, 401(k), 403(b), SEP, KEOGH, etc.) and summary plan description for any such plan in which I am a participant or alternate payee.
  10.  The declarations page, the last periodic statement, and the certificate for any group insurance for all life insurance policies insuring my life or the life of my spouse.
  11.  All health and dental insurance cards covering either of me or my spouse and/or our dependent child(ren).
  12.  Corporate, partnership, and trust tax returns for the last 3 tax years, in which I have an ownership or interest greater than or equal to 30%.
  13.  All credit card and charge account statements and other records showing my(our) indebtedness as of the date of the filing of this action and for the prior 3 months. All promissory notes on which I presently owe or owed within the past year. All lease agreements I presently owe.
  14.  All premarital and marital agreements between the parties to this case.
  15.  All documents and tangible evidence relating to claims for special equity or nonmarital status of an asset or debt.
  16.  Any court order directing that I pay or receive spousal support (alimony) or child support.

Of Significant Note: Your financial affidavit should be completed with precision. While it is ok to estimate, remember that a good lawyer will pick your financial affidavit apart at the expense of losing your credibility in court if you have no way to back up the entries on your financial affidavit. Remember, the affidavit measures units by the month so if you pay for your vehicles tag renewal at $60 dollars per year then the figure on this line of the financial affidavit should be $5.00. A financial affidavit just as your W-2 form is only evidence of what your income is but is not conclusive. For instance, if you are a part time W-2 wage earner involved in another business venture then your income for support purposes is based upon an examination of all of the financial records required to be disclosed during the proceeding.

Children: The children are who the court cares about most in every divorce case. The parent who has typically been primarily responsible for the children’s day to day care is usually the parent who will end up with more overnight time with the children each year. Courts have become more open to liberal time-sharing schedules, and there is movement in Florida to equalize time-sharing between the mother and the father upon separation or divorce. The key here is to make the children your biggest priority and stay involved with them. The children should continue to participate in all the activities they have been accustomed to, and you should remain active with the children in school events and in all their activities.

Changes After Petition: Once a party files a petition for dissolution of marriage neither party may jointly acquire or dissipate assets, neither party can make changes to previously established bank accounts, neither party can change the ownership status of previously acquired real estate, and neither party may relocate with the children more than 50 miles from their last known residence.

Selecting the Right Lawyer is Important – Call an Experienced Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer – Call Us!

The lawyer you choose to represent you in your divorce is a crucial decision. Do not hire a lawyer for a divorce case simply because they go to your church or because their office is close to your home or work or because they quote you a lower retainer than the last lawyer. If you are planning for divorce then it is important that you obtain the advise of a lawyer who is a Board Certified Expert in handling marital and family law cases. A lawyer who is Board Certified in their field is a lawyer who measures up to have experience, qualifications and professionalism of the highest caliber in that particular field. The certification program was designed to help you, the consumer of legal services, in choosing the right lawyer. Despite experience and qualifications, you must be comfortable engaging in open and honest dialogue with any lawyer if you expect them to help you. You should communicate your goals as well as your concerns to the lawyer from the very beginning. If the lawyer is Board Certified, responsive to your needs, and you are comfortable in your ability to communicate with that lawyer and you feel as if you are understood then the lawyer will most likely be a good fit for you.

If you need help call (904)360-6100 today!

Remember: for Family Law, choose Family Values.