Served with Divorce Papers? Now what?
If you are served with divorce papers, you will want to first, keep them. Do not throw them away even if you are upset or angry. You can get a copy from the courthouse, however, if you have already done this. You are considered served on the day you receive them even if you tell the person who tries to hand it to you that you do not want the divorce papers. Your service date is an important date as it starts the period of time in which you have to wait if you are doing a mutual consent divorce. You will want to have an attorney look at the papers that you received so that they can determine for you if you need to response. The papers will always say you only have so many days to respond. Do not panic. It is unlikely that you will lose rights if you do not answer them within that time frame. Do, however, consult an attorney, who will be able to explain the legal jargon to you and let you know whether a response is required. A response is only usually required if you need to raise new claims such as spousal support or alimony or equitable distribution. Most attorneys will offer a consultation either by phone or in their office, and oftentimes, this initial consultation will be free. If you need support, you may bring someone with you to the appointment or have them on the phone with you. If you are served papers, in most cases, you will want to freeze any joint debt and secure any joint assets, but you may also want to discuss it with your attorney. Being informed and knowing what to expect is an important part of getting you through the process. An attorney can discuss with you what you can expect with respect to distribution of assets, support, and also the time frame in which things may happen or how things may be delayed.