A divorce is a delicate time where everything you do (or don’t do) can be scrutinized and used against you. While this may sound intimidating, you won’t have to worry if you know the things not to do during a divorce case.

Knowing how to handle yourself and your relationships, finances, and legal strategy during a divorce can make the process run more smoothly, cost less, and end more quickly.

What Not To Do During a Divorce Case

Whether you are the one who filed for divorce or you have had divorce papers served on you, here are the nine things not to do during a divorce case.

#1) Don’t let your emotions drive you.

It’s no secret that a divorce can be stressful. You are getting ready to go through a life-changing event. Take time to process the situation so you can work to take your emotions out of it. Bringing emotions into your case will make it more difficult and can cloud your judgment when it comes to negotiations.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

#2) Don’t make significant financial moves.

One of the most important things not to do during a divorce case is make major money moves. During your divorce, your finances — both your assets and liabilities — will be looked at closely and used to determine the terms of your divorce. Any major changes can cause delays and complications in the process.

  • Don’t drain bank accounts
  • Don’t make large purchases.
  • Don’t sell any assets.
  • Don’t take on any new debt.
  • Don’t try to hide money in separate accounts.

#3) Don’t harass your spouse. 

It should go without saying that you should never harass your spouse. As mentioned above, divorces can cause emotions to run high, but you never want your emotions to cause you to confront your spouse, whether by showing up in person or by calling or messaging them. Any unruly behavior can be used by your spouse to cast you in a negative light and make a strong claim for their side of the case.

#4) Don’t pull your kids into it.

Kids are innocent bystanders in a divorce. Do everything you can to keep them out of it and away from the associated stress. Don’t use them as pawns or as tools to punish your spouse. Don’t talk badly about your spouse in front of your kids, and never withhold visitation rights. Also, keep any new partners away from your kids. (In fact, you might want to avoid finding a new partner until your divorce is over.)

#5) Don’t share divorce details on the internet.

Just as you want to keep kids out of your divorce, you also want to keep your friends and family and the public out of it. An important thing not to do during a divorce is post about your situation or spouse on the internet or social media. Keep in mind that everything you post publicly can be used by your spouse to support their case against you.

#6) Don’t get another baby involved.

A new baby — whether conceived within the existing partnership or with another partner outside of the marriage — can seriously complicate a divorce case. Don’t get pregnant or get another person pregnant while in the middle of a divorce. Judges may look down on a pregnancy outside of the marriage, and a new baby between partners can lead to a longer process and more complicated mediation.

Related: 6 Ways to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

#7) Don’t take divorce advice from family and friends.

When you go through a divorce, it’s likely that other people in your life who have been divorced will want to offer pieces of advice. Take everything they say with a grain of salt. Every divorce is unique and not everyone is an expert. The best person to rely on for advice is your divorce attorney.

#8) Don’t hide anything from your attorney.

Your divorce attorney is on your side, and they will do whatever they can to fight for your best interest. But, they can’t do that if they don’t have all of the information. From your first meeting with a divorce attorney, you should be completely open and honest. Trying to hide anything from them can only come back to hurt your case.

#9) Don’t talk to your spouse’s attorney.

Your spouse’s attorney is not on your side, and they will do whatever they can to fight for your spouse’s best interest. If they approach you and want to discuss your divorce case, don’t do it. Always leave the communication to your attorney and let your representation handle any negotiations with the other side.

Let an Experienced Attorney Guide You Through Your Divorce

Without the right advice, it can be easy to make mistakes as you go through a divorce. With these tips, you know the top things not to do during a divorce. Now, find out what you should do during a divorce.

Get an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through the process. Contact TJ Grimaldi today to get your free consultation. Schedule or call 813-226-1023 today.

It should come as no surprise that one of the most common questions that divorce attorneys get asked is, “How long does it take to get a divorce?”

During a divorce, both parties can typically agree on at least one thing — they want it to go as quickly as possible. They want the process to move speedily so they can close the chapter and move on with their lives.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact answer to the question, “How long does it take to get a divorce?” There are a few factors that offer an estimated timeline.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce In Florida?

On average, a divorce takes about three to 24 months. The time it takes depends heavily on where you file and if you have a contested or uncontested divorce.

Where You File

Where you live and file for divorce can have an impact on the amount of time it will take to finalize your divorce. Some states have certain timelines tied to divorce proceedings.

The following timelines represent estimates for how long it takes to get a divorce in Florida.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is one wherein both parties agree on the separation arrangement. Both parties agree on the details of the separation and do not require negotiation, mediation, or trial.

An uncontested divorce often takes around three to four months. It takes a few weeks to file the paperwork and approximately three months to schedule the final hearing.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is one wherein the parties disagree on the arrangement. The parties cannot come to an agreement on how to split assets, liabilities and/or child custody or they cannot agree to alimony or child support terms.

A contested divorce often takes 12 or more months as it typically requires negotiation and meditation, and sometimes, a trial. The timeline in a contested divorce includes time to prepare paperwork (a month), receive an answer (up to 20 days), produce discovery (up to 90 days), participate in mediation (two to three months), and schedule the final hearing (three months). The timeline can be longer if an agreement can’t be made and the case needs to go to trial.

Keep in mind that these are just estimates. If you want to know how long your specific case will take, talk to a divorce attorney who can listen to the details of your situation and provide a more accurate timeline.

Related: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Florida?

How Can I Speed Up the Divorce Process?

One of the fastest ways to get a divorce is through a Simplified Divorce. A Simplified Divorce requires less litigation which expedites the process and allows couples to move more quickly through the process.

Not all couples are eligible for a Simplified Divorce. They must meet certain criteria to be able to file a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. The divorce must be uncontested, and no minor children can be involved. If you are ready to file for divorce in Florida and you want the process to move quickly, review the Simplified Divorce guidelines to see if you qualify.

What Will Slow Down the Divorce Process?

One of the reasons why attorneys can’t easily answer the question “how long does it take to get a divorce” is because there are some factors you can’t control.

Your proceedings can slow down depending on the availability of a judge. You may have to wait for hearing times. Also, process errors from either party can slow down the process. If an attorney on either side fails to follow proper procedures or files inaccurate documents, the process can take more time.

Yet, the primary reason why a divorce process slows down is because the parties cannot come to an agreement.

Contested divorces where both parties cannot agree on splitting assets and liability, child custody, and alimony, among other financial details, add time to the divorce process. If you want your divorce to go quickly, you will need to come to an agreement with your partner as soon as possible.

Get an Accurate Timeline for Your Divorce

How long does it take to get a divorce in Florida? Well, it depends.

Consider your unique situation to get an idea about the potential timeline, and add a cushion of extra time to factor in unforeseen issues that could cause delays. If you want a realistic timeline, talk to a family law attorney.

An experienced attorney can give you an accurate estimate because they will have past cases and a knowledge of your local court system to inform them.

They can pull from past experiences to help you see how details of your case may impact timelines. They will also have ideas about how the court system in your community works and be able to tell you about how long it takes to see a judge and if cases are often rescheduled or delayed.

Related: How to Prepare for the First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney 

Time is ticking.

If you want to get through your divorce as quickly as possible, start the process by contacting TJ Grimaldi today. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 to get answers about timelines and discover what you need to do to get through your divorce as quickly as possible.

A divorce comes with many financial considerations. A large part of your proceedings will revolve around your financial interests. You will identify and split assets and liabilities and also determine who pays for the attorney’s fees in a divorce.

If you’re getting ready to go through this process, you are probably wondering how much a divorce will cost and who is going to pay for it. Will it be you, your spouse, or both of you?

Let’s look at some considerations that can help you determine what to expect.

Divorce Cost Factors

Before determining who pays attorney’s fee in a divorce, start by considering how much the divorce will cost. Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact dollar amount for how much a divorce costs. A few things will contribute to the overall cost.

Court Fees

Each county court has a filing fee that must be paid to file for divorce. The fees differ by county and state. In Florida, most counties charge $408.00 to file a dissolution of marriage and annulment.

You may also need to pay additional court fees depending on the details of your case. For example, if your case goes to trial, you will need to pay associated court costs. You are responsible for paying all court fees in addition to attorney’s fees.

Your Current Financial Situation

If you and your spouse don’t have the financial resources needed to pay court fees, you can submit an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status. If both parties can prove that they are unable to pay, neither party would be responsible for the fees.

The Complexity of Your Divorce

If you have a very simple divorce (for example, no minor children are involved and the divorce is uncontested), you may be able to file for a Simplified Divorce if you meet specific criteria. A Simplified Divorce is less involved than a traditional divorce, so the associated attorney’s fees will be lower than if you go through standard divorce proceedings.

The more complex your divorce, the more expensive it will be. More resources will be needed if children are involved, you have many assets to divide up, or you and your partner are reluctant to agree on the details of the divorce. A more complicated divorce will require more time from a divorce attorney and incur more expenses related to additional court and mediation costs.

Related: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Florida?

Attorney’s Fees

If you choose to work with a family law attorney, you will incur attorney’s fees. Attorney’s fees vary widely based on where you live, the attorney’s experience level, and the complexity of your case.

Related: How Much Does an Attorney Cost?

Consider how each of these factors impacts your situation to get an idea of the potential cost of your divorce. A reasonable average is about $5,000.00 to $15,000.00 per spouse.

Who Pays The Attorney’s Fees in a Divorce?

In most divorce cases, both sides have their own lawyer to represent their interests. For example, one spouse may get an attorney and file for a divorce. The other spouse will retain their own attorney once the divorce papers are served on them.

Each party is responsible for the fees due to their hired attorney.

Also, the party who filed for divorce will pay the court filing fees. This initial arrangement does not mean that each side will ultimately pay all of their own attorney costs.

During negotiations of the divorce, one side may fight to get their attorney’s fees paid by the other party. 

  • One party can make a claim that they are unable to pay their attorney’s fees and that the other spouse is in a position to pay the fees. To get your attorney’s fee paid by your spouse, you must prove that you are a dependent spouse who doesn’t have the same resources that the other side has.
  • Another way to get your spouse to pay your attorney’s fees in a divorce is by showing bad faith or fault of the other party. If you can prove that the other side made false allegations, engaged in frivolous litigation, or otherwise caused delays in litigation, you may be awarded attorney’s fee as part of the settlement.

If your settlement awards you attorney’s fees, you will be reimbursed for any costs already paid to the attorney. This is called a shifting fee provision. The party retaining the attorney pays the attorney and is later reimbursed for the expenses.

Related: How to File for Divorce in Florida

Make a Financial Plan for Your Divorce

It may be difficult to determine who pays the attorney’s fees in a divorce and how much it is actually going to cost. The best way to get a clear idea of what to expect in your unique situation is to talk to an experienced divorce attorney.

Most first meetings with a divorce attorney are free and allow you the opportunity to ask questions and get an idea about the financial responsibility you should expect.

If you are getting ready to go through a divorce and have questions about costs and expectations, contact TJ Grimaldi. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today to get answers to your financial questions so you confidently take the next steps without worries of unexpected costs and responsibilities.

Schedule or call 813-226-1023 today.

Just about everyone going through a divorce can agree on one thing: they want the process to be over as quickly as possible. This desire is what leads many people to explore their options for a Simplified Divorce, which can speed up the process (and decrease the associated costs).

While a Simplified Divorce might be a good option for couples looking to quickly dissolve their marriage, it’s not right for everyone.

Let’s look at what a Simplified Divorce is and whether or not it might be right for you.

What Is a Simplified Divorce?

A Simplified Divorce, also known as a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, is an expedited process that couples can go through to get a divorce in Florida. As its name implies, it is a simplified process that requires less litigation than a standard divorce process. The couple creates their own separation agreement and files it with the court. A Simplified Divorce is set up so couples can do it on their own, without the help of an attorney, but an attorney can (and often does) assist with the process.

A Simplified Divorce is not an option for all couples. You must meet specific criteria to be eligible for a Simplified Divorce.

To be eligible for a Simplified Divorce:

  • You and your spouse must agree that the marriage cannot be saved.
  • You and/or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months.
  • You and your spouse must not have minor children.
  • You and your spouse must not be pregnant.
  • You and your spouse have already agreed on how you split your assets and liabilities.
  • You and your spouse must not be seeking alimony.
  • You and your spouse agree that each will not receive any portion of the other’s pension.
  • You and your spouse agree that there will be no legal ramifications if one or both sides of the party don’t meet the terms of your agreement.
  • You and your spouse are willing to give up your right to a trial and appeal.
  • You and your spouse are willing to sign the petition in the clerk’s office. (This can be done separately.)
  • You and your spouse are willing to go to the final hearing at the same time. (You both must attend.)

If you are ready to file for divorce in Florida and do not meet all of the criteria, you are not eligible for a Simplified Divorce. You must file a standard petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

If you meet all of the criteria and are considering pursuing a Simplified Divorce, here are a few pros and cons to consider.

Pros of a Simplified Divorce

It is less expensive. A Simplified Divorce is usually less expensive than a standard divorce because it takes less time and resources to file. You will still need to pay the filing fee. The cost to file a Dissolution of Marriage is $408 in most Florida counties. (If you can’t afford the fee, you can file an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status to have your fees waived.) But, you will have fewer costs as they relate to attorneys fees, mediation expenses, and additional court fees.

Related: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Florida?   

It can be less stressful. Because a Simplified Divorce involves fewer steps, it can be less stressful for both parties. Instead of having multiple meetings with attorneys and spending time in mediation or courtrooms, both parties only spend limited time dealing with the agreement and filing. Even if an attorney is involved, there are typically less meetings than in a standard divorce.

There is less information released publicly. Court proceedings are often available to the public, which means the information may be accessible. Because there is less information and financial disclosures required with a Simplified Divorce, there will be less public information available about the terms of your divorce.

Cons of a Simplified Divorce

Unbalanced power dynamics can lead to an unfair agreement. A Simplified Divorce leaves it up to the couple to decide how to split their assets and liabilities. In cases where one party may have more power or control over the other party, this can lead to an unfair agreement. A standard divorce gives each party the support they need to get what is fair and due to them.

You lose legal protection if your agreement is broken. When you agree to a Simplified Divorce, you are relying on the other party to hold up their part of the agreement. You give up your right to a trial and appeal, and you acknowledge that if one party defaults in the agreement, there will be no legal ramifications. In a more traditional divorce filing, each party is bound by the court to uphold their part of the agreement.

You’re responsible for proper filing. While the court system does its best to help couples go through a Simplified Divorce on their own, the process can still be tedious and complicated. You are responsible for accurately and appropriately finding and completing the correct Florida Family Law Forms. To avoid improper filing, many couples hire an attorney to help them complete the paperwork and properly manage the process.

Related: How to Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney   

Talk to a Divorce Attorney About Your Options

Couples who are about to go through a divorce want it to be as quick and easy as possible. For many couples, a Simplified Divorce might be the solution they need. But, the extra time and resources spent working with an experienced divorce attorney to go through the standard divorce process is usually worth it.

You get a dedicated attorney who will fight for you and ensure that you get a fair settlement that can be upheld in court. 

Don’t worry about filling out paperwork incorrectly or making mistakes that leave you without a fair settlement. If you are thinking about filing for divorce, learn about your options with a free consultation with TJ Grimaldi. Get expert advice about your options and see what is best for your interests.

Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

When you’re getting ready to go through a divorce, you have many things on your mind. How will divorce impact your family? How long will it take? And, of course — how much will it cost?

Wondering how much a divorce costs is a top concern for people as they start the process of legal separation.

Not knowing how a divorce will impact your finances can be stressful and make it more difficult to take the first step in the proceedings. If you are beginning the divorce process, we recommend getting details about costs right away.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

Unfortunately, there is no exact, set cost for a divorce. A reasonable average is about $5,000.00 to $15,000.00 per spouse, but this range can change based on a variety of factors that are unique to your situation.

To get an idea of how much a divorce will cost, consider the types of fees associated with your type of case. Standard divorce fees include:

  • Filing fees and court costs: Costs associated with bringing your case to court.
  • Mediation costs: Costs for a mediator should your case require divorce mediation.
  • Lawyer costs: Cost to retain a lawyer to represent you during your case.

The cost of your divorce may also be impacted by factors such as:

  • If children are involved. When children are involved, it may create a more complex case and require additional time in mediation and/or court to determine parental rights and visitation schedules.
  • The number of and type of assets you have. To determine the value of your assets, you may need to pay to hire experts to assign value. For example, if you have a home, you may need to pay an appraiser or if you have a retirement plan, you may need a financial advisor to provide insight into how to split your funds.
  • If the divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce, when both sides agree to the terms of the divorce, will be cheaper to litigate than a contested divorce where terms need to be negotiated.
  • Whether you and your spouse are able to compromise. If you and your spouse have a difficult time coming to a compromise, it may increase costs by leading to longer mediation sessions and potentially leading to a trial (which can be expensive).

Related: What Happens After Divorce Papers Are Served?  

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Florida?

The cost to file for divorce changes by state. Consider the court costs in your state and county to get an idea of court costs and filing fees.

In Florida, the court costs associated with divorce may not be standard across all counties. You need to look at the costs for the specific country where you will be filling. To find the filing fees in your country, visit the county clerk’s website, and review the fee schedules as they relate to family law.

In most Florida counties, the cost to file a dissolution of marriage and annulment is $408.00.

If you can’t afford to pay the fee, you can submit a divorce filing fee waiver, which is called an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status. If approved by the court, the fee may be waived.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Get a Divorce?

The cheapest (and fastest) way to get a divorce in Florida is through a Simplified Divorce or Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. A Simplified Divorce expedites the process which decreases costs. You must meet the specific requirements to qualify for a Simplified Divorce, such as no minor children can be involved and the divorce must be uncontested.

Related: How to File for Divorce in Florida 

Find Out How Much Your Divorce Will Cost in Florida

The only way to truly know how much a divorce will cost in Florida is by talking to an attorney.

The details of your case and the rates of attorneys vary widely, so it will be difficult to know for sure how much the divorce will cost without talking to a divorce attorney.

Most divorce attorneys offer free consultations where they listen to the details of your case and give you a reasonable estimate of the cost of litigation. It’s one of the top discussions you should have as you go in for your first meeting with a divorce attorney.

If you are considering filing for divorce in Florida, find out what it will cost — and what to expect as you go through the process — by scheduling your free consultation with TJ Grimaldi. 

During your no-cost meeting, TJ will gather information about your case and help you understand what the associated costs will be. Don’t go blindly in a divorce proceeding. Get the information you need to confidently move forward. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

If you’re getting ready to create a parenting plan for your child or children, you need to know the different types of child custody.

Entering into a child custody conversation can be challenging. Even if the discussion is amicable and both parents have the best interest of the child in mind, it can be stressful. To make the situation easier for everyone involved, it helps to know all of your options before starting the conversation.

Knowing the different types of child custody helps both parties fully understand the terms before making an agreement. It also helps you explore all of your options so you can make the best plan of action for your family.

The 5 Types of Child Custody

If a married couple with children splits up or parents that live separately have a child, they need to create a plan for how they will share the responsibility of caring for the child. They need to choose the type of child custody that will work best for the parents, and more importantly, the involved child or children.

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to make legal decisions for the child. Parents with children under the age of 18 are legal custodians of the child. Legal custody grants a parent the right to make decisions about how the child will be raised and cared for. A parent with legal custody can make decisions as it relates to the child’s healthcare, religion, and education.

Physical Custody

When a parent has physical custody, they have the right for the child to live with them. Parents with physical custody (called a “custodial parent”) have the child in their home and care for them on a day-to-day basis.

Sole Custody

Sole custody refers to one parent having full legal custody, full physical custody, or both full legal and physical custody of a child. Because it is often better for the child to have both parents involved, sole custody is usually only an option when one parent is deemed unfit.

Joint Custody

Joint custody refers to parents sharing legal custody, physical custody, or both. The goal of most custody agreements is to create a plan where each parent has some physical and legal custody. Under a joint physical custody agreement, both parents spend time with the child living at their home. Under a joint legal custody agreement, parents work together to make long-term decisions about the child’s life and well-being.

Grandparent Visitation Custody

In some cases, child custody expands beyond the rights of parents and extends to grandparents. Grandparents can get legal rights to visit their grandchildren. While this may not be a part of the initial child custody agreement, it’s worth noting that its an option for grandparents.

Related: How to Prepare for the First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

Who Decides the Type of Child Custody?

Child custody usually comes into question when a couple goes through a divorce, when a child is born out of wedlock, or when circumstances change and an existing custody arrangement needs to change.

Parents must work together to decide on a plan on their own, or they may need to get legal assistance. Child custody can be decided by:

  • The Family: Parents can work together to create an agreement outside of the courtroom. It is advised to have the plan in writing in the event that the plan doesn’t work out and becomes a family law matter. (Please see our Guide to Florida Family Law Forms to see how you can establish a custody plan.)
  • Mediation: Parents can work with a third-party mediator to come up with a child custody agreement. Mediation allows both parties to work together to come up with a plan that they can both agree on. If they can’t agree, they will need to go to court.
  • Judge: If parents cannot come up with a child custody agreement on their own or through mediation, they will go before a judge to present their case. The judge will make the final decision. In most cases, parents want to avoid this option as it puts 100% of the control in the hands of the judge. The parents must abide by their ruling.

Related: 6 Ways to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

Get The Best Child Custody Outcome

If you’re dealing with a child custody change, you may be feeling nervous or anxious. Creating a parenting plan when going through a separation or a divorce can be stressful. It’s natural to feel a bit of anxiety about the situation.

But, you can take steps to ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your custody agreement. 

You took the first step by educating yourself on the different types of child custody. Now, you know your options.

The next step is finding a family law attorney who can guide you through the process. With a trusted and experienced attorney by your side, you can ensure that you get the best possible parenting plan whether you create the agreement in or out of court.

Are you getting ready to create a child custody plan? Explore your options and find out how to get the outcome that is best for you and your family. Schedule a free consultation with TJ Grimaldi to share your story and see how he can help. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

 

It’s never easy to prepare for divorce mediation. Your emotions are likely running high, and you may have nerves about both the process and the divorce itself. But, getting fully prepared before your divorce mediation will help you decrease your stress and put yourself in a position to get the best possible outcome. 

If you are starting to prepare for divorce mediation, use these tips to get ready. 

#1) Understand what will be discussed during mediation. 

The first step to prepare for divorce mediation is getting a full understanding of what the process is and what will happen during it.

Divorce mediation is a process wherein two parties meet with a non-biased mediator. The goal of the meeting is divide assets and make a plan for your family. During mediation, you will work out: 

  • Distribution of financial assets
  • Distribution of property
  • Distribution of debts
  • Child support payments
  • Alimony payments
  • Child custody and parenting time

Divorce mediation is designed to prevent your case from going to trial. If you and your spouse can amicably work through these decisions in mediation, then you don’t need to go to trial. If you and your spouse can’t work through these decisions, you will go to court where a judge will make the decisions for you. 

Ideally, you want to be in control of these decisions, not a judge, which is why it’s so important to plan for a successful mediation. 

Recommended Reading: How to File for Divorce in Florida 

#2) Collect and closely review all financial documents. 

Before your divorce mediation, get your financial documents in order. Make sure all financial documents are provided to the other side and that you have received all financial documents from the other side. 

Equitable Mediation recommends that you have:

  • Pay Stubs
  • W-2’s and/or 1099’s
  • Tax Returns 
  • Savings, Checking, Money Market and CD Accounts
  • Annuities, IRAs, Deferred Compensation
  • Retirement Accounts and Pensions
  • Non-Retirement Investments such as Stocks, Bonds, Secured Notes, Mutual Funds
  • Credit Cards and Revolving Credit
  • Other Loans and Debts
  • Executive Compensation – Stock Options, RSUs or Other Executive Comp
  • Business Interests Valuation
  • Real Estate Property Valuation
  • Vehicles, Boats, Trailers Valuation
  • Jewelry, Antiques, Art, Coin Collections, or Other Property with significant value
  • Real Estate Loans
  • Life Insurance (Whole Life Policies)

Collect and review these documents so you are aware of all assets and debts going into mediation.

#3) Plan to negotiate — and compromise. 

All divorce assets and terms are negotiable, but only while you are in mediation. If your case goes before a judge, you lose your right to negotiate. The judge will make the final decision. So as you get ready to go into mediation, be prepared to both negotiate and compromise. 

Prioritize the things that are most important to you. Then, be willing to compromise on other items to keep your case in mediation and avoid the need for a judge to make decisions for you.

#4) Don’t expect to rush through it.

While most people want their divorce to be over as quickly as possible, it can be a mistake to rush through the process, especially the mediation.

Mediation can take time. You might want to rush it, but instead, you should be prepared to stay at the mediation as long as it takes to come to an agreement. Plan to take time to really think about the details of the agreement. The results of a divorce mediation will continue to affect your life for years to come, and it’s always better to decide your own fate, rather than put it in the hands of a stranger (the judge). 

#5) Get in the right mindset. 

Divorces are emotional experiences. They can take a toll on people both mentally and physically. As you prepare for divorce mediation, take some time to focus on your mind and body. Get rest, and get in the right mindset.  

You don’t want to go into mediation filled with emotions because they will lead to emotional decisions. Emotional decisions are rarely the right ones. Come into the mediation with the mindset to leave the past in the past, and instead, only worry about what will be best for the future. 

#6) Bring a divorce attorney to be by your side.

You are not required to have an attorney during divorce mediation. Both sides can participate without legal counsel. But, that may not be the best decision.

An experienced divorce attorney can help you see blind spots when it comes to dividing up assets. They can help you negotiate to get what you think is fair and act as an intermediary during complicated and emotional discussions. You are better equipped to go through the process with someone fighting for you by your side. 

Recommended Reading: How to Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney   

Prepare for Your Divorce Mediation by Talking to an Experienced Attorney

As you prepare for divorce mediation, use these tips to make sure you are prepared. Then, make sure you haven’t missed any important details by working closely with a family law professional who can help you navigate the process. 

The decisions you make during your divorce mediation can impact the rest of your life. Make sure you get them right. 

Talk to an experienced divorce attorney today. Request your free consultation to talk to TJ Grimaldi. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Planning your first meeting with a divorce attorney can be a little unsettling. This is a big step in your life, and it’s natural to feel nervous or anxious about starting the process. But, if you are prepared and planning to meet with an experienced, caring attorney, you don’t need to worry.

When you go into your first meeting with a divorce attorney with the right information and questions, you can get started off in the right direction. You can speed up the process and create a plan to lead to the best possible outcome for you and your family.

When Is it Time to Meet with a Divorce Attorney?

While you might be putting it off, it’s time to meet with a divorce attorney if:

  • You’ve been thinking about divorce. Meetings with a divorce attorney are completely confidential. If you are thinking about filing for divorce but don’t want your spouse to know, you can meet with an attorney confidentiality to explore your options.
  • You’ve been served with divorce papers. You only have twenty days to respond after being served with divorce papers. Time is of the essence, so plan a meeting with an attorney right away.
  • You’ve decided you want to file for divorce. Once you are ready to file for divorce, start the process by meeting with an attorney to discuss your options.

If you are in any of these situations, look for a divorce attorney who offers free initial consultations (that often take place over the phone). If that goes well, schedule your first in-person meeting.

Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

Follow these steps to get ready for your first meeting with a divorce attorney so you feel confident and prepared and have the materials you need to move your case along quickly.

#1) If you’ve been served, bring the divorce papers.

If you’re starting the divorce process because your spouse has filed, bring the divorce papers that were served to you. When you call for your appointment, share the date that you were served so the attorney can plan to see you in the appropriate amount of time. Remember, you only have twenty days to file an answer from the day you were served.

Related: What Happens After Divorce Papers Are Served?

#2) Gather identification for all involved family members.

Bring any and all personal identification information about people in your immediate family, including your current spouse and any children.

#3) Gather financial information.

Bring any documents with financial information such as:

  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Account information
  • Tax returns
  • Loan documents

#4) Create a list of assets.

In addition to financial funds, create a list of:

  • Assets to distribute
  • Credits to distribute
  • Debits to distribute
  • Other valuable personal property to distribute

#5) Gather any additional documentation.

In addition to financial and asset information, collect any other documents that are related to your marriage or children. For example, if you have children and you have taken a parenting course in anticipation of the divorce, bring the certificate. Or, if there is alleged physical abuse or taking of funds, bring documentation to support your claim.

#6) Create a timeline of events.

Your attorney is going to need to understand the story of your relationship. Help them by creating a timeline of events that tells the story. Include the date and location of your marriage, the date of separation, and any other dates of important information such as spousal misconduct or problems.

#7) Do initial research on the divorce process.

You will feel more confident if you do a bit of initial research before your meeting. At the minimum, read through our guide on “How to File for Divorce in Florida” to get an idea of how the divorce process works.

#8) Create a list of questions.

Use your time with the divorce attorney to share information as well as ask questions. Ask any questions you have about the process and your situation. Also, question the attorney about their experience, rates, and past cases. Use this time to get educated on the process and the attorney so you can decide if the lawyer is right for you.

Related: A Guide to Understanding Florida Family Law Forms 

#9) Be prepared to be honest and open.

The more you share with your divorce attorney, the better they will be able to help you. As you go into your first meeting with a divorce attorney, be prepared to be open and honest. Share any details that you think are relevant or add context to your situation, and know that your conversation is 100% confidential.

Schedule Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

If you have been served with divorce papers or are thinking about starting the process on your own, don’t let the unknown hold you back. Follow these steps to get ready for your first meeting with a divorce attorney, and then take the first step.

See if TJ Grimaldi is the right divorce attorney to help you through the process. Our initial consultations are free. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 to see if TJ is the best attorney to help guide you through this phase of your life.

The Florida State Court System is set up so individuals can access and file Florida family law forms on their own. Individuals going through a family law matter aren’t required to use an attorney. Instead, they can represent themselves and use self-help resources to manage their case.

Let’s look at where you can find Florida family law forms, how you can use them, and if there’s a better alternative to filing on your own. 

What Are Florida Family Law Forms?

Florida family law forms are standard documents you can use while representing yourself in family court in Florida. The Florida civil law forms include representation forms, petitions, supplemental (modification) petitions, answers, financial affidavits, and supporting documents. Florida family law forms can be used in matters related to divorce, alimony and spousal support, child support, property division, and paternity, among other matters. 

When Do You Need Florida Family Law Forms?

You can use Florida family law forms if you want to take legal action or someone has taken legal action against you in family law courts. There are more than a hundred forms that can be used in family law proceedings. You can use the forms if you want or need to:

  • File an appeal or an answer related to family law matters
  • File for divorce
  • File for custody
  • Change a custody or visitation agreement
  • Change a parenting plan 
  • Change a legal name
  • Determine paternity 
  • File for step-parent adoption
  • File for protections against domestic abuse 

This is not a comprehensive list, but it can give you an idea of the actions you can take using Florida family law forms. 

Where Can I Access Florida Family Law Forms?

The Florida State Court System has a self-help resource center on its website that includes a long list of Florida family law forms. You can find them in the Family Law Self-Help Information resource center

All forms are free of charge. You can download editable forms directly from the site. 

Individual counties may also have online resources that supply family law forms. But, you do not need to use forms specific to your country. 

Forms in Florida are standard throughout the state. While details of the forms (such as your country name on the first page) may be different, you can use all forms found on the Florida State Court System website for each country. 

How Do I Use Florida Family Law Forms? 

The Family Law Self-Help resource provides instructions to guide you through the process of using and filing forms on your own. 

  1. Start by reviewing the General Information for Self-Represented Litigants which shares vital information about the court system and its processes. 
  2. Review the Florida Rules of Family Law to gain a better understanding of family law processes and procedures.
  3. Determine which forms you need, and find them on the Florida Court site.
  4. Fill out forms. You can download, print, and hand-write your forms, but it is recommended to use the form’s fillable fields. When you use Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can fill out forms by typing in answers. This process ensures that your forms are legible. 
  5. File forms with the Clerk of Court’s office in your county. Each form includes directions on how to file the form and what procedures need to be followed (such as if you need to make copies, have other parties served, etc.).

How Do I Get Help?

The Family Law Self-Help resource offers some assistance, but it cannot provide the full scope of help you might need. 

The resource center can only offer administrative and procedural help. For example, if you can’t find a form, can’t download it, or have a disability which limits your ability to access an online form, the office can provide assistance. But, they cannot help you fill out forms or offer any assistance that can be perceived as legal help. If you want legal assistance, you need to work with a family law attorney. 

A family law attorney can help you with the entire process. When you work with an attorney, you will likely not need to access any Florida Family Law Forms on your own. Your attorney will advise on what forms you need, help you complete the forms, and file them on your behalf. 

Related: What Happens After Divorce Papers Are Served?

Let’s Talk About Your Family Law Case 

If you’re looking for family law forms, you are likely in the middle of or about to start ligation. While these forms will help you navigate the process on your own, it always helps to have a professional on your side.

A family law attorney will make sure you complete the correct forms, at the right time, and in your best interest. They will guide you through the process to ensure that you and your family get the best possible outcome. 

If you need advice on how to go through a family law process, please contact TJ Grimaldi. All of our consultations are 100% free so you can discuss your case for no charge. You will speak directly with our lead counsel, TJ Grimaldi so he can get to know your case and let you know how we can help you through your unique family law situation. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today. 

When divorce papers are served, there are a lot of unknowns. Whether you are the one serving divorce papers or you are on the receiving end, you will likely have many questions about what is to come. 

You will want to know what you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible for everyone involved, while ensuring that you get a fair and just outcome. 

To help guide you through the process, here is what you can expect to happen after divorce papers are served in Florida. Keep in mind that processes may vary by state, and we recommend getting information about your specific state from a qualified divorce attorney.

What Happens After You Serve Divorce Papers? 

If you’re serving divorce papers on your spouse, the process won’t come as a surprise. You will expect it. Regardless, you might be anxious about what happens next. 

When your spouse is served with divorce papers:

  • They can choose to hire a divorce attorney or represent themselves.
  • They will have up to 20 days to file an answer. Members of the military may have a longer period of time to respond.
  • Their answer will tell the court which part of the filling they agree or disagree with.
  • They will be asked to fill out additional paperwork and participate in mediation and/or hearings to finalize the divorce.

If your spouse is served with divorce papers and they don’t file an answer within 20 days, they may forfeit their right to present their side. The court may award a default judgment, which is a ruling that only takes your petition into consideration (since there is no information submitted by the other party). This process doesn’t happen automatically. The petitioner (you) must file a Motion for Clerk’s Default to move the case along if your spouse doesn’t file an answer. To keep the process moving along, file a Motion for Clerk’s Default the day after the answer is due if your spouse does not file an answer. 

If your spouse is served with divorce papers and they respond after 20 days, they may still be able to participate in the case. They can file a late answer if the Motion for Clerk’s Default has not been filed. If the Motion for Clerk’s Default has already been filed, they will need to file other motions to show why they filed late and what relief they seek. 

Recommended Reading: How to File for Divorce in Florida 

What Happens After You Are Served with Divorce Papers?

The divorce process might be more disorienting if you are served with papers from your spouse. Whether you are expecting them or not, being served with divorce papers can be stressful. You may feel emotional about the situation, and you only have 20 days to file an answer. The key is to stay calm and act quickly. 

If you are served with divorce papers:

  1. Decide whether to seek counsel from an attorney. We recommend exploring your options with a divorce attorney as soon as possible. As soon as you are served, call for free consultations to see how a divorce lawyer can help you navigate the next steps. (At  TJ Grimaldi, Attorney at Law, all consultations are free. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.)
  2. Review the petition, and compile your answer. Your answer should respond to all claims made in the divorce papers. Don’t rush through this process. Carefully go through all claims and write up responses that relate to the division of assets and liability, child custody, and spousal support. Make note of any claims that you don’t agree with, and pull any documentation that supports your claims.  
  3. File your answer within 20 days. It should go without saying, but the deadline to file is extremely important. Don’t let this date pass without filing an answer. 
  4. Follow additional directions by the court leading up to final judgment. Once the answer is filed, you will likely receive additional documents to fill out, and you will participate in mediation and/or hearings until the final judgment is entered.

If you are served with divorce papers and don’t answer within 20 days, you may still have an opportunity to make your claims. If the Motion for Clerk’s Default hasn’t been filed, you can still file an answer. But, if the Motion for Clerk’s Default was filed, you may need to file additional motions to get your side of the case heard. 

Talk to an Attorney Before & After Divorce Papers Are Served

When divorce papers are served, the situation quickly becomes real. Whether you are serving the papers or being served with them, you are in a legal situation that can impact the rest of your life.

Make sure you have the information and representation to protect you, your children, and your assets as you go through the process. Work with an experienced attorney who can ensure that the process is as painless as possible for all involved while ending with a fair outcome. 

If you’ve been served with divorce papers or are thinking about serving your spouse with divorce papers, TJ Grimaldi is here to help. Our consultations are 100% free. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 to see how we can help make the divorce process less stressful for everyone involved.