Steps to Initiate the Divorce Process

Once a couple has determined that they will move forward with a divorce, it will be imperative to secure services from an experienced family law group in Tampa, FL. Divorces are often emotionally fueled, which further adds to the complexities of the process. While parties may initiate the process with every intention of fully cooperating with one another, tensions can run high when disagreements arise. The McKinney Law Group wants those pursuing the divorce process to understand the initial phases of initiating divorce proceedings. Once the first vital steps are taken, there will be several decisions that parties will need to make. One of the most critical decisions divorcing couples with children can make are child custody agreements. When enduring a divorce, it’s important to ensure a smooth process, where interests are kept at the forefront, which is why the assistance of an experienced lawyer will play an essential role in providing guidance and representation. 

Steps to Initiate the Process

Most people are relatively unfamiliar with the divorce process and what it entails. While couples know that they will need to make decisions, they may be entirely in the dark over how to move forward. At times, this can result in a lull when moving forward. It’s best to start by meeting with a lawyer from a Tampa, Florida family law group, as they will be able to guide their clients through the process from start to finish. Consider the following first steps that should be taken when filing for divorce:

Filing a Divorce Petition:

One party will be required to file a divorce petition with the local court. It’s important to note that in Florida, parties must be residents in the state for at least six months before they can do so. Typically one party will file for a petition of simplified dissolution or dissolution of marriage.

Notify Parties:

Commonly known as the service of process, the other party involved must be notified once one party has filed for divorce. This is required by law and entails providing copies of the petition to your spouse. It’s important to note that you can’t conduct this process by simply giving the paperwork to your spouse. It’s required that a process server or deputy sheriff serve these documents. 

Negotiating Agreements:

Once a response is received for the divorce petition and the divorce discovery process is complete, negotiations will begin. Negotiating agreements often starts in mediation, where parties meet with a neutral party to help develop divorce agreements. This is a critical component of the process as the ability to make agreements through negotiations can help minimize the need for the courts to make decisions through litigation. In mediation, arrangements can be made for the division of property, retirement accounts, child custody/support, alimony, life insurance, and other jointly owned assets.


Making Agreements for Child Custody

Child custody is possibly one of the most emotionally fueled elements of the negotiations process. Both parties will want to have their children with them as much as possible in many cases. In addition to making long-term agreements, a temporary custody and support plan will need to be made until more formal agreements can be made. In addition, parties should utilize mediation outside of the courtroom to develop a formal parenting plan that further outlines how parents will co-parent their children. Examples of standard custody arrangements are:

 

  • Joint Custody
  • Legal Custody
  • Sole Custody
  • Physical Custody


There is much flexibility in the details surrounding these agreements. Still, it’s important to note that any decisions made must be in the child’s best interest by putting their health, happiness, and emotional well-being at the forefront. 

The McKinney Law Group knows that pursuing divorce was not a decision that couples made lightly. When initiating a divorce, it’s essential to have the guidance of a professional to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. To learn more about the services our Tampa, FL family law group offers, schedule an appointment with our team as soon as possible.