If your spouse has served you with divorce papers that you were not expecting, you are naturally reeling from the shock, and probably have no idea how to proceed. The most important first step is to be kind to yourself. The fact is that divorce is not only a complicated and often protracted legal process but can also be emotionally devastating – especially if you did not see it coming. It is also important to recognize that your emotions will likely play an important role in how your divorce proceeds, so allow yourself some time to process the emotions you are experiencing.
It's also vital to understand that divorce can have a significant impact on almost every aspect of your life, including your finances, your relationship with your children, and your assets.
Receiving the Divorce Petition
If you have been served with a divorce petition, you likely knew that your marriage was in trouble. Perhaps you had even spoken about the possibility of divorce with your spouse, but none of that mitigates the reality of holding divorce papers in your hands. Divorce is not real until it is. If your spouse filed, he or she has had some time to live with the idea while you have not. Facing divorce papers can be a real shock, and you should not rush into any drastic action at the outset. Talk to your loved ones and trusted friends about what you are experiencing. Divorce support groups and/or a grief counselor can also help.
Responding to the Divorce Petition
While divorce certainly has an emotional component that you need to address, it's critical to remember that it is a legal proceeding that can affect your rights. For this reason, it's vital that you respond to the divorce petition within the allotted period of time – if you do not, your spouse will get a default judgment. This means that divorce will proceed without your input, and your spouse will likely get whatever he or she asked for in the petition. To determine your deadline to file your response, count 20 days from the day you were served including weekends and holidays, and then find the next Monday. In the event that the 20th day falls on a Monday, go to the following Monday. If the courts are closed, your response is due the Monday after that. The most effective way to ensure that you respond on time and properly is to retain a divorce lawyer in Killeen as soon as you are served.