What To Do When You Receive Divorce Papers
A divorce is one of the most difficult things you can face in life, even when you know it is coming. Whether you are expecting the divorce papers or not, chances are you will likely feel a deep sense of loss and even may feel as though you have failed. Figuring out how you will proceed is very difficult at the start of a divorce. But it is important to proceed in a dignified manner and act with caution. Remember that a divorce, no matter how emotional it can become, is still a legal proceeding. Reacting inappropriately can harm your case in ways that have serious consequences and that are far-reaching beyond your divorce itself.
Step 1. There are few things more important during this process than remaining calm and not losing your temper during your divorce proceeding. Demonstrating your feelings in court will only damage your case. Wait until you are sure you are capable of being polite and civil before you contact your spouse or their lawyer.
Step 2. Review the papers pertaining to your divorce to see when you are expected to respond to the court. This is important, since not responding promptly can cause the court to decide to place you in default. This means the judge will rule solely based on your spouse's account of the marriage and will not hear your account at all.
Step 3. Hire a qualified attorney like Kane Funk Poch & Van Massenhove PC who can properly advise you on your divorce proceedings. If hiring a lawyer is not possible, take a look at your state's courthouse website. This can help you better understand how divorces proceed when one or both parties are not represented by lawyers. It's important that you look specifically at the website for the state you live in, as divorce laws vary by state. You can also inquire at the clerk's office in your county as to the protocol for divorce proceedings when a lawyer is not involved.
Step 4. Always consider the possibility of reconciliation before filing for a divorce. Talk to your prospective ex-spouse and determine if there is any desire on their behalf to salvage your marriage. If not, do not try and force the idea of reconciliation.
Step 5. Visit your county courthouse and ask for the response forms that you will need to complete. If you have an attorney, it's his or her job to collect these forms. Ask your attorney or a qualified courthouse employee how these forms should be completed.
Step 6. Submit the completed forms to the courthouse prior to the deadline for filing them. The sooner you return them, the better.
Step 7. Meet with your spouse (preferably with your attorney present) to figure out how your shared property should be divided. While your goal should be to maintain as much of your assets as possible, it's also important to be willing to compromise to maintain a degree of peace between you and your ex-spouse, especially if you have children together.
Step 8. Make sure you're on time for your divorce proceeding and that you come prepared. Not attending your divorce proceedings will likely result in you receiving much less in terms of shared property. You may also lose out in other areas that are addressed in a divorce.