First steps when your spouse asks for a divorce
Whether it is a surprise or not, most people do not know what to do after their spouse has communicated that they want to end the marriage. Do not do anything drastic. Before taking major steps in response, find a Florida family lawyer who can provide important guidance and information.
Your attorney can also advise you of certain dos and don’ts, which may vary depending on your circumstances. For example, your legal counsel will likely advise you at this time not to open new accounts; sell or give away property, money or assets; or enter contracts.
As the proceedings move forward, the lawyer’s advice may change.
How did you find out?
Did your spouse tell you of their intention to dissolve your marriage or did you see receive service of process by which your spouse gave you official notice that they filed a petition for divorce in state court (for example, the Unified Family Court (UFC) of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit of Florida in Broward County)?
If you were served with a petition, you normally have 20 days to respond with your official answer. If you do not respond in time, you will default on the case, which means your spouse – the petitioner – could continue to move the divorce proceedings through the system without your input.
It is advisable to engage a lawyer to draft and process the answer, including serving it on your spouse and filing it in court. In addition, both parties will need to disclose specific information and documents about assets and children and file a sworn financial statement.
If your spouse told you they want a divorce but has not yet filed a petition, you could discuss with a knowledgeable attorney whether you want to file the petition or wait for your spouse to do so. Your lawyer can tell you about the pros and cons of each strategy to help you decide.
Even if you feel that your spouse has been the naughty one, do not pout or let your emotional response to the divorce news cause you to take drastic steps that may not be in your best interests. Speak as soon as possible with a divorce attorney who can provide immediate direction.