How to prepare consultation or appointment with a Tampa Divorce Attorney:
The following is a basic list of what you should consider in preparing for your appointment.
If you have any questions about what to bring, you can always just give us a call, send us an email or use our contact form in the left hand column of this page and we'll be happy to help.
Inevitably, the question of finances always comes up in divorce. Florida divorce law uses equitable distribution to divide property between spouses. This means the financial status of each party will be considered in order to determine what percentage of the couple's property each will receive.
In order to get a better idea of how to distribute property during a divorce, the following documents will likely be necessary:
Personal tax returns:
- It is recommended you try to provide 3 years worth of tax returns
Is there a family owned business?
- If so, try to provide 3 to 5 years worth of copies of your business tax returns.
- If you share or independently own a mortgage on a house or any other properties, copies of your mortgage statements will also be needed.
Lines of Credit:
If you have any outstanding lines of credit, or any accounts that were active in the last 2 years, copies of those statements should also be provided.
- Any loan applications or financial statements going back at least 2 years should be copied and provided if possible.
- If there are investment or brokerage account statements, your attorney will likely need to see copies of the most recent statements from those accounts as well.
- In the event either party is retired, copies of the retirement statements will be necessary for each retired spouse.
When providing statements and documents, it is important that you do the following:
MAKE COPIES! - Don't take a chance, make copies of any important documents you have.
Organize - Try to get everything organized by category and date.
Don't worry! - If you don't have all the documents, or as much of a history as is recommended, just do your best to get together what you do have. Your divorce attorney has ways to obtain any missing information.
Preparing your factual written statement of information relating to the divorce:
It will be necessary to provide a bit of background information to your attorney in order better help facilitate the divorce proceedings and save everyone a lot of time. We recommend trying to include the following:
Parties Involved in the divorce:
- The full name of both spouses, along with the names of any children regardless of whether or not they were born into the marriage or from prior relationships will be needed. The date of birth and social security information may also be necessary, as well as the status of any healthcare associated with any of the involved parties.
- Complete contact information including mailing address and / or P.O. Box, place of work, telephone, email addresses, and any other means for reaching the parties involved is recommended.
Date of marriage and separation (if separated):
- Your divorce attorney will also need to know the date of the marriage, as well as the date of separation if the parties are separated.
Education and employment history:
- Try to prepare information related to any employment history of both spouses.
- The employment history should be arranged similar to a job application or resume, with each employer listed in detail.
- You can include employer contact information, what position was worked, the dates of employment, amount of compensation, and the reason either spouse left the job or is no longer employed with any company they've worked for during the marriage.
- The court may also want to consider any costs associated with education, including the education of children and spouses, as well as the costs and enrollment dates, courses studied, GPA and etc.
- This is another big one. Any criminal charges or criminal history, whether domestic violence related or even dui or traffic violations should be provided. Court history and docket sheets are also suggested if available.
- If either spouse or any children have any health issues which are significant, try to provide copies of any documentation relating to the diagnosis, date of diagnosis, any remedies or treatments as well as recommended future and long term care arrangements, and health insurance information.
Other things to include in your statements:
- If infidelity of your spouse is suspected, your divorce attorney would also likely want to see what testimony or evidence you have to back up any claims.
- A brief statement on why you believe the marriage is failing will be necessary. When preparing this, it may be helpful to make an outline of all the reasons you're seeking divorce into a list. Once you have your outline, you can go into more detail behind each of your reasons for divorce.
What questions should you have for your divorce attorney?
Everyone has questions about divorce and what to expect. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce with our answers. This list is a good guideline of things you might want to consider asking your next prospective divorce attorney.
1. How many years have you been practicing in the area of divorce or family law?
A: Fernandez Law Group's attorneys have been practicing divorce for over 17 years.
2. Do you have courtroom experience do you have in matters dealing with divorce or family law?
A: Yes, the attorneys at Fernandez Law Group have over 17 years of courtroom experience.
3. How many years have you been practicing law here in Florida? (or any state)
A: Fernandez Law Group has been practicing law in Florida for over 17 years.
4. Do a lot of your cases involve trial, and if so, how many cases do you think went to trial last year?
A: Last year, 20% of our divorce cases went to trial.
5. What kind of experts do you work with, if any, outside of your firm who assist with accounting, investigations or counseling and etc.?
A: Yes! Fernandez Law Group has a team of consultants we work with regularly whenever we need expert opinions to help your case.
6. What are your thoughts about mediation? Is it something you would recommend in my divorce?
A: Here in Florida, mediation is usually court ordered, and we're equipped to properly handle mediation as well.
7. Is it possible for me to have a collaborative divorce, and are you a qualified or trained collaborative divorce attorney?
A: Yes, and we are trained to handle cases of collaborative divorce in Florida.
8. During my divorce, should I be in direct contact with my spouse or only communicate through my attorney?
A: We typically try to encourage communication with your spouse, and also try to work towards the most amicable solutions for both parties involved in order to have as stress free of a marriage dissolution as possible.
9. Do you have any idea how long it might take for my divorce and proceedings to complete?
A: Here in Tampa, you can expect a divorce to take upwards of 8-12 months, if contested, and a little under that amount of time if not contested.
10. Is there anyone else in your law firm who might assist, help prepare for, or represent me in my divorce?
A: Attorney Frank Fernandez is our primary divorce attorney and expert, and along with Frank, paralegals may also assist.
11. Will I be communicating primarily with you as my divorce attorney, or your staff and assistants Can I expect to be in direct contact with you when I have questions or issues regarding my divorce?
A: You will be in direct contact with Attorney Frank Fernandez during the majority of the time we handle your divorce case, although from time to time you may communicate with a secretary or paralegal.
12. Since I'm needing a divorce in Florida, does it matter which county I reside in? And if so, which counties do you primarily practice law in and how often?
A: It doesn't matter what county you reside in or where you got married - Fernandez Law Group practices law in all Florida counties, with the bulk of our practice in Hillsborough County. We have offices in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Miami for your convenience.
13. Has anything changed in Florida Law recently pertaining to family law and divorce that might affect my case?
A: Yes, there have been several changes to Florida Statutes concerning Family Law and Divorce in recent years. Our attorneys stay up to date on all changes in the law and will inform you if they will have any impact on your case.
Other factors to consider when selecting a divorce attorney:
Divorce is a very complex and serious process that requires competent legal representation. You can be confident that the attorneys here at Fernandez Law Group are comfortable both at the negotiation table as well as in the courtroom.
Our divorce attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience in Tampa courtrooms and are extremely well versed in all applicable family law statutes for the State of Florida. We are also very familiar with how the divorce process works here in Hillsborough County.
In most cases of divorce, the majority of time is spent in deciding about the allocation of joint property. The law differs from state to state regarding just what is 'community property' in a marriage.
Because Florida is a no-fault state, you can divorce your spouse for any reason.
Because any communications you have with your attorney are privileged, having a third party present will void your right to confidential communication. If you wish to consider having a third party present, please consult with your attorney first.
Many attorneys have fees for consultations, however, we are happy to provide you or anyone else with more information on Florida divorce laws and if you need an experienced Tampa divorce attorney you can depend on, you can
Call us today at 813-489-3222 for a FREE consultation and case evaluation.
Content authored by Frank Fernandez