Whether you’ve discussed it with your partner or if it comes as a surprise, divorce can create a difficult time. When there are children or assets involved, the process can become even more tricky to navigate.
Even when operations and divorces are amicable, it’s still important to have a lawyer working on your case to ensure the process goes smoothly. No matter what occurred leading up to the divorce, once divorce papers are served, it’s important to protect yourself legally.
If a divorce is something you’ve been discussing, you may already have a lawyer. But if divorce comes as a surprise, you should get a lawyer immediately. They will let you know your rights and tell you what to do next.
First, Read the Divorce Papers
Once you get the divorce papers, you’ll want to read them thoroughly. Within these papers there will be plenty of information you’ll need to know about the divorce, such as which court the divorce action was filed.
This information is especially helpful if you’ve been estranged or separated from your spouse or in cases when you might not have known the divorce was filed. The paper can also tell you if the divorce was filed in another state.
If the spouse filing for divorce has hired an attorney, the paper should also mention that and provide information about said counsel.
Divorce papers may also list what the grounds for divorce are as well as provide requests for information regarding child or spousal support, custody and other child-related issues, and any division of property or assets.
Find Out When You Have to Respond
The divorce papers should also mention a deadline by which the spouse being served must respond. The typical amount of time is thirty days from when the papers were served.
It’s important to locate this deadline and respond accordingly or the other spouse could receive everything request in the divorce papers. You can respond through an attorney or respond on your own.
It’s not customary to write a general response but rather respond to each statement written as grounds for divorce. Because of the technicalities, it’s recommended to hire a lawyer to respond and represent you through the divorce procedure if you are able to afford one.
A lawyer would be able to ensure you’re protecting your rights, legal arguments and assets in a divorce.
Hire a Family Lawyer
There is a range of how divorce proceeding can occur from amicable and understanding separation to dramatic fights over the smallest details. Even in the best cases of divorce, the entire process can take a toll on your whole being; it can be a drastic lifestyle change.
A family and divorce lawyer can look over all the documents from the time the papers are first served and protect your legal rights. Even if you choose to hire a lawyer later in the process, it can still be a good move.
If you aren’t able to pay for an attorney for the full divorce proceedings, you still have some options. Some lawyers are able to be retained for limited purposes such as only filing or only being the spouse’s reputation in court.
Get Documents Together
Marriage is a legal agreement and there are a lot of legal documents associated with such a union. You’ll need some of these documents during the divorce process, but your lawyer may also use them in the early stages to help build a case.
The first kind of documents you’ll need are those have your identifying formation. This can include a birth certificate, social security card, and marriage license.
You may also need to present financial documents such as tax returns, bank statements, or credit card statements. Financial documents are important when trying to determine assets in a divorce, as well as debts and income of the individuals and household. These can factor in to decisions later in the divorce process.
Protect Your Assets
In a marriage, there are assets the individuals bring to the table and there are assets that are acquired together during the union. For assets that may solely belong to you, you’ll want to move moves to protect them so they can’t be taken in the divorce.
This is when you should set up a separate bank account if you have a joint account. Any funds that went into the joint account should now go into the separate account you’ve created.
While working on securing your assets, you’ll also want to find out if there is any debt that you may not be aware of that your name is attached to. A credit report can tell you of any debts attached to your name.
Ensure Privacy During Communications
Lastly, you’ll want to ensure private and secure communication while going through a divorce. Attorneys often send classified information or information that may have to do with strategy in the divorce. It’s important that these communications do not fall into the wrong hands.
It’s a good idea to reroute your mail, especially if you’ve moved out of a joint space or if a spouse has access to a formal mail box. If you haven’t moved out or if you need a secure place to send communications, consider opening a post office box that only you can access.
During divorce planning and divorce procedure, keeping information confidential and maintaining your privacy will only be a benefit. Ensure your divorce lawyer can contact you privately through multiple channels.
What to Do Once Served With Divorce Papers
Divorce can go smoothly or it can become a nasty battle. Wherever it falls on the spectrum, it’s important to protect yourself and have a family and divorce lawyer working on your case.
After being served with divorce papers, you should take the above steps as soon as possible. A lawyer will be able to explain the next steps and guide you through court proceedings.
If you were served with divorce papers or you’re looking for a family and divorce lawyer, contact us today for more information.