Vanilla, please! Simple steps to filing your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
If you are contemplating divorce, keep it simple. Your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage should limit (even omit) accusations and provocative commentary. “Vanilla” is the term to describe a pleading that addresses only the facts of your marriage and what relief you are seeking at the end of the divorce.
Standard provisions, such as “The marriage is irretrievably broken” tell the Court that the marriage cannot be repaired. It is a short, simple statement that your spouse can either “admit” (agree) or “deny” (disagree). You want your spouse to agree with your Petition as much as possible to reduce litigation later. This is not the time to use colorful descriptions as they will not further an amicable resolution. Florida is a no-fault state; therefore, exposing an adulterous spouse is only necessary if the spouse spent marital funds and you seek to recoup your financial loss.
Work with your attorney to address what must be resolved prior to the Final Judgment to allow you to move on. These issues include:
– Financial and Retirement accounts
– Child Support and Timesharing
– Ownership of Real Estate and other Property
– Insurance Coverage
– Marital vs. Non-Marital Assets
– Returning to your maiden name
It is in your best interest to discuss any concerns, rumors, and indiscretions with your attorney who will advise you if, and how, this information can be used during the litigation. Attorney-client privilege is a useful tool that should not be ignored. Talking to a friend or family member is cheaper and may be easier, but they can be forced to disclose what you told them and can be compelled to testify later. If you and your spouse have joint friends be careful what you say because friends often inadvertently transmit information to their spouse.
There is method to the madness, especially if you do not want your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to read like a New York Post “Page 6” gossip column. Let your attorney, not your emotions, guide you through the process.