If you’re considering filing for divorce, you know taking the first step is not easy. In addition to the psychological impacts, though, there may be legal ramifications for the spouse who chooses to file first. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your assets as you dissolve your marriage.
What if You File First?
In states with no-fault divorce laws (Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Hawaii, Florida, Colorado, and California), filing first does not assign a legal advantage or disadvantage. Regardless of the reasons underlying the divorce, these states only acknowledge that one party has decided to file. From there, they assume that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
If you file for divorce in Florida, the judge in charge of hearing your case (and your divorce attorney) will probably not even consider why you chose to file for divorce. While this means filing first won’t benefit or harm your case, there are still things you’ll want to consider as you move through the process.
Protecting Your Assets During Your Florida Divorce
As long as you meet Florida’s residency requirements, you can file for divorce in the Sunshine State. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you do:
Splitting Assets During Your Divorce
As you seek a divorce in Florida, the court will divide your marital assets and debts. According to Florida divorce law, the courts define marital assets as assets or liabilities acquired during the marriage by either party. Keep in mind that the court does not divide separate assets or property owned by only one spouse. Neither do the courts divide non-marital assets, including inheritances.
This means that, as you move through your divorce, you’ll have to decide what is and is not marital property. In the eyes of the court, the following factors are likely to affect the determination of property distribution:
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including homemaking and childcare.
- The economic standing of both spouses.
- The length of the marriage.
- Whether either party experienced an interruption of career or education during or as a result of the marriage.
- Whether one spouse helped advance the career or education of the other spouse.
- The desirability of obtaining a specific asset, including for business reasons.
- How each spouse contributed to obtaining certain marital assets.
- Whether it would benefit the custodial spouse to stay in the family home for the children.
- Whether one spouse intentionally wasted assets in the two years before filing for divorce. Examples include excessive shopping or spending large sums of money on a person with whom one spouse is having an affair.
Calculating Child Support
In Florida, the courts often require the noncustodial parent to pay child support to their ex-spouse. During such a determination, the court will consider the following factors:
- The net income of both parents
- The cost of child care
- The cost of medical insurance for the child(ren)
- The number of children that require support
If you want to avoid devastating financial impacts and get a fair settlement during your divorce, hire a skilled Florida divorce attorney. Your divorce attorney will work with you to help you avoid legal pitfalls and protect yourself financially as well as emotionally. Ready to learn more? Contact our team today.