Whether divorce was well-anticipated or comes as a complete shock, the process that kickstarts the divorce proceedings usually comes in the form of being served. When this happens, you need to take instant action to safeguard your legal rights and future. Here are 4 things to do after you have been served with divorce papers:

1. Read the documents

It is essential for an individual to read the divorce documents closely. The documents should list the court where the action has been brought. The divorce documents should also list a time limit to provide a reply. Additionally, the documents will show whether the spouse is filing the documentation on his or her own or has gotten the services of an attorney.

The divorce documents should also allege the reasons for divorce. They can also address child support amounts, spousal support, property division, child custody, and other child-related problems.

2. Provide a Response

The documents should show the number of days an individual is required to react to the divorce complaint or petition. Usually, this is 30 days beginning from the date that you were served the divorce documents. You should review the documents for an exact number. If you allow the date to pass without responding to the complaint, the other spouse may obtain everything in the Complaint that he or she has requested.

An individual will normally provide an answer through his or her attorney. Otherwise, the spouse’s rights and legal arguments may be forfeited. Typically, each numbered declaration in the Complaint must be answered individually, not just a general denial of all claims.

You should consult with an attorney immediately, as you need legal guidance as to what you should do during the 30 day time period before the Answer is due. Any schedule of visitation that takes place during the 30-40 days before the initial hearing could affect your potential child custody arrangement.

3. Get a Lawyer

Even if you agree with the divorce and the requests outlined in the documents, a divorce attorney will be able to review the circumstances surrounding your situation and inform you of what you should expect if you were to go to court. If the case is challenged later, your attorney can advocate for your rights. Almost every day people come to us stating that they wish they had hired us sooner. 

4. Protect Your Assets

Individuals going through a divorce should address how their assets can be protected. You should discuss with your attorney whether you should remove half of the amount in any joint accounts or otherwise protect the accounts and other assets from the other spouse.

Contact an Attorney

If you’ve been served divorce papers, get the help of an attorney as soon as possible. Please call our law firm to discuss how we can help you.