Being served divorce papers can be an overwhelming experience. It can be tempting to procrastinate what to do with them as you try to sort through all the emotions and thoughts of what went wrong. However, you must take the proper steps as quickly as possible. Here are the five things you need to know after you’ve been served:
1. Understanding The Summons and The Complaint
Divorce papers normally include a summons and a complaint. A summons informs the defendant that they are being sued and that the court has the power to hear their case. A defendant must act within thirty days of receiving their summons and set up a court date or else the court will assume that you have no interest in the case. This means the court may, by default, proceed to the conclusion of the case without notice to you and that your spouse will have greater power in deciding what happens during the proceedings.
The complaint is the first step in the process of a divorce. Also known as the divorce petition, this legal document is filed in court by the spouse who is seeking a divorce. The complaint informs the court that a spouse is seeking to end the marriage and its submittal to the court initiates the beginning of the court proceedings.
In addition to the summons and the complaint, an individual may also be served with papers regarding temporary custody of any children. However, this is not permanent and the custody can still be fought in court.
2. It Is Imperative to Open and Accept the Papers Right Away
Ignoring the papers won’t make them go away. Instead, doing this will hurt your case. When you receive divorce papers, you must open them up immediately and be ready to respond with all of the necessary documentation before the due date. The date is usually set within 20-30 days after the individual has been served to ensure that the individual has an adequate amount of time to gather the necessary information.
3. You Need to Hire a Divorce Attorney
You shouldn’t have to face your divorce on your own. Seek out professional consultation by hiring a divorce attorney. A divorce attorney will be able to help you gather the necessary information, facilitate the legal process for you, and help ensure that you are being treated fairly. An attorney will be able to help you file an initial response to the petition, give you legal advice on how to proceed with the case, write up divorce papers, and assist you in court appearances and settlement negotiations.
4. Ensure That You Have All of Your Financial Information Together
You will want to find and make copies of all important financial documents and information, whether it is yours alone or between you and your spouse. This includes pay records, bank information, retirement accounts, and tax statements and returns. While gathering this information can be time-consuming, it will help ensure fair treatment during settlement proceedings and protect you from being painted in a negative light.
5. Put Together Your Children’s Records
If you and your spouse have children, you must gather their records as well. School records, medical documents, birth certificates, and any other documents regarding their care should be compiled. This will help ensure that you are being treated fairly when it comes to child custody hearings and visitation proceedings. An attorney will be able to help you acquire and put together this necessary information.
Need an attorney to help you navigate the twisting paths of your divorce? Alison Grant, Attorney at Law has been compassionately serving the individuals of DFW with their divorce proceedings. She understands that divorces can be stressful, which is why she works hard to ensure that your rights and your voice are heard during the proceedings. She can help you in other areas as well, such as family law. Put your trust in an attorney that puts you first and contact Alison Grant, Attorney at Law today!