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Sarasota Family Law Blog

Common divorce steps

Your divorce may look different than anyone else's. This is important to remember, especially when getting advice from well-meaning friends. The experience is not always the same for everyone.

That said, if you're thinking about divorce and wondering what it is going to be like, there are some common steps that most couples take. A few of them are outlined below:

  1. The separation. For some couples, this is a legal separation backed by official paperwork to show that, while they're not married, they are living alone and their assets are separate property. For others, it's just an unofficial separation after the marriage falls apart but before the divorce is final.
  2. The divorce filing. At least one of you has to officially file for divorce. In the past, this meant presenting an argument for why you should get the divorce. You don't need to provide a reason for a no-fault divorce in 2020, but you still need to file.
  3. Temporary orders. This is not a step used by all couples, but can be helpful, especially for families. Essentially, knowing the divorce may take months, the court quickly rules on things like child custody, alimony and child support to help things go smoothly.
  4. Court or mediation. Mediation is the process of working with your spouse, your attorneys and a mediator to make decisions on your own. When you can't agree, you can go to court and a judge can make the decisions.

Custodial interference probably violates your parenting plan

One of the more effective ways to create a positive co-parent relationship is to have a comprehensive parenting plan. After all, your parenting plan outlines each parent’s rights and responsibilities. Therefore, during your divorce, you should devote a significant amount of time and effort to negotiating the agreement.

Once your parenting plan is in place, it is important to respect its terms. Not only is carefully following the plan good for your son or daughter, but it also helps you avoid conflict with your ex-spouse. If your former partner interferes with your parenting time, though, you may need to take legal action.

Where does Florida rank in divorce rate?

If someone asked you where Florida ranked in the divorce rate among states in the U.S., would you guess that it is among the highest or among the lowest? Many people would cite the high population of elderly couples who retire to Florida, assuming that most couples of that age stay together, and say that the state would rank fairly low compared to other states.

The reality, though, is that some studies have put Florida at No. 3 overall in divorce rate. A study on the financial stress on the country pinpointed a high level of stress in Florida and connected it to the high divorce rate. Some couples break up directly because of this financial stress, while others are unprepared for life after divorce and feel it then.

Remember that divorce is hard for kids to understand

There is a common theme when you talk with children of divorce: Whether the divorce was good or bad, pretty or ugly, simple or complex, they often just struggled to understand why it was happening or why their lives had to change.

One woman recounted yelling at her father's car to try to get him to turn around as he drove off. She noted that she had a younger sister, just 3 years old, who certainly couldn't comprehend the changes that were taking place. Even long after divorce, accounts from these now-adult children note that it was difficult to understand.

How clear is your pre-divorce communication?

How is your spouse going to react when you ask for a divorce? Will they be shocked? Will they nod knowingly, having felt the same way for a long time? Will they think you're joking?

Much of it comes back to your pre-divorce communication. Clearly, you have some concerns about the marriage if you're thinking about ending it. Have you told your spouse what those concerns are? Do they realize how serious you are?

Why would you modify your custody order?

The court carefully considers your situation when issuing a custody order, and they try to make a decision that puts the children first and also adheres to the rights of the parents. With all of this consideration up front, why would someone ever want to modify the order? Wouldn't it stand to reason that they already came up with a successful plan?

They may have, but situations change. When there are significant alterations, the plan that worked before may become outdated. Remember that the child custody situation could exist for as long as 18 years, so the odds that things stay perfectly the same all that time are slim. Some reasons for modifications include:

  • The child's needs change
  • The child gets older and expresses a desire for a change
  • It becomes clear that one home is not safe for the child
  • One parent runs into trouble with the law
  • One or both of the parents would like to move
  • The visitation schedule no longer works properly, perhaps after a change in employment
  • One parent passes away, becomes ill or sees other types of declining health and can no longer care for the child properly
  • One parent ignores the schedule and violates it repeatedly, forcing the other to seek a change.

For a divorce, do you have to go to court?

When you think about getting divorced, you likely imagine going in front of a judge and having them tell you how you need to divide your assets or split up your time with the kids. And, for many couples, this is exactly how it works. But does it have to be this way?

It certainly does not. You can get out of court appearances if you and your spouse work together to hash out your divorce agreement on your own or with a mediator. As long as it is reasonable, the court is probably going to allow it.

What matters can you address in a parenting plan?

While sharing custody of your son or daughter with your former spouse may lead to significant benefits for your child, it may not have been your first preference. Even if you were in favor of having your child split time between your own home and that of your ex, you may find that it takes some time to adjust to the transition.

You may also find that the transition proves to be easier on everyone when you and your ex set clear guidelines about how you plan to parent your shared child in the absence of the other party. Many former couples find that putting a parenting plan in writing helps them avoid contention and disagreement down the line, and many cover similar aspects of co-parenting within their plans. While there is, of course, going to be some variation between one parenting plan and the next, most people cover the following in theirs.

Does your health matter with child custody cases?

When you and your spouse get divorced and divide up your time with the children, the court considers many different factors. After all, their focus is on making a decision that is in the best interests of the child, and they put that ahead of the parents' desires.

If you're dealing with any health issues, you should know that they can impact the case. The court will consider the physical and mental health of both parents.

Is divorce a new phenomenon?

Have you ever asked yourself why divorce seems so common in the modern world? Have you ever wondered what relationships looked like historically?

After all, some experts have argued that divorce is, in the scope of human history, a very new idea. In fact, they even go so far as to suggest that strict marriage like we have today is new, and that the rise of divorce is because this is simply not how people lived for tens of thousands of years.

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