First Steps: What to Do When You’ve Been Served with Divorce Papers
Whether or not being served divorce papers came as a surprise, it is still a very emotional and painful experience. Despite the overwhelming emotion, it is important to be proactive and act quickly, in order to protect yourself, your children, and your rights throughout the divorce process.
The first step is to consult with a family law attorney. Divorce documents can be wordy and complicated and attorneys are experts at decoding the confusing language of the law. An attorney will be able to explain the documents to you and provide more information on what your next steps are based on your case’s individual complexities. Remember, once you’ve been served, there will be a few different deadlines, orders and injunctions that automatically go into effect. Because of this, it is necessary to act quickly and make sure that you are observing all of the dates the court expects you to. Even if you haven’t signed anything or done anything in response, these deadlines, orders, and injunctions are still in place.
It is also to gather all relevant information and documentation. Your attorney can help you determine what you will need and at what times. These documents could include tax returns, pay stubs, bank and credit card statements, retirement accounts and anything else that will give the court the full picture of your assets and any debt you may have. If you have children, you should make sure to get any documents you can regarding how much time you spend with your children, childcare expenses, and main caretaker duties. It could be helpful to begin recording and saving all conversions regarding your children as evidence!
Being served with divorce papers can be scary and confusing but taking decisive action to protect yourself and your future is imperative. Being proactive will allow you to take control of the process and better prepare you for a fair path forward.
To discuss the first steps in your divorce with a Divorce Matters attorney, contact us!