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You'Ve Been Served With Divorce Papers: Now What?

by Maurice Moore

Even if you anticipated it happening, it can be a shock to be served with divorce papers. There are a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to this sort of thing, so read on and find out more about what you need to do next.

Why Were You Served?

It can be jarring to be served divorce papers, especially if you and you spouse are on speaking terms and agree that a divorce is the best thing to do. However, don't take it personally when you are served. In most cases, serving someone with divorce papers is a common, routine part of the divorce process, regardless of the tone of the upcoming divorce. It protects the party filing for divorce just in case the other party claims to have not known about it. It's a legal action and it's also a sign that you need to contact your own lawyer very soon.

An Answer is Expected

The divorce paperwork bundle doesn't just inform you of a legal action. It also contains the major provisions of the divorce framework that you will be dealing with in the next few weeks. The divorce petition, if you don't take action, is considered to be a done deal if you fail to respond to it. That means you are in total agreement about child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, debt assignments, and asset divisions. It's in your best interest to seek legal advice and answer the petition if you don't agree with any aspect of it.

How to Handle the Petition

Read the petition and make note of things you don't agree with so you can discuss them with your lawyer. Even if you and your spouse have discussed the divorce and some of the issues, you can be caught off-guard by certain provisions. For example, the other party may be asking for full physical custody of the children when you had previously agreed to share custody 50/50. In the coming weeks, you and your spouse will be resolving the differences, but you first need to assert your objections to anything that sounds wrong to you. With your lawyer's help, you can better understand what each provision means and what could happen when you disagree with it.

Be Ready

In most cases, the petition is closely followed by requests for financial information. This info is needed to help ascertain child support amounts, spousal support (if any), debt divisions, and property divisions if any of those issues should become contentious. Speak to local divorce lawyers to find out more.