If you have been served with divorce papers out of the blue (or what seems like out of the blue to you), you are likely experiencing shock and probably do not know what to do next. Your children’s ongoing welfare and your financial future most likely top your list of concerns, and facing the unknown can be extremely frightening. There are some steps you can take, however, that will help you protect you and your children’s rights throughout the divorce process.
Try Not to Panic
Suddenly facing divorce papers is never easy, but it is important to remind yourself not to panic. Such a reaction can lead to errors in judgment and mistakes that can jeopardize the results of your case. While it is important to share your feelings with close friends, family, and loved ones, now is also the time to gather your strength and to address the issue of divorce head-on.
First Things First: Find an Experienced Divorce Attorney
Before you begin catastrophizing about the impossible twists and turns you and your children’s lives are going to take, find an experienced divorce attorney with whom you are comfortable sharing the details of your situation. The single most important step you can take is committing to working closely with an experienced divorce attorney from the outset, which will help ensure that your divorce stays on track and that you obtain the best possible outcome.
You are looking for a divorce attorney who checks several important boxes, including:
- Someone who inspires your trust and whom you are comfortable talking to
- Someone who is responsive and timely
- Someone who has considerable experience in divorce law
- Someone who takes the time to carefully explain the divorce process to you every step of the way
Hiring a divorce attorney in whom you are confident should help you rest a bit easier as you move forward.
Do Not Be Duped by Your Spouse’s Predictions
If your spouse served you with divorce papers on unexpectedly, it may seem like he or she has the upper hand in the matter, but this is simply not the case. Do not give in to your feelings that the information your soon-to-be ex is feeding you is accurate or even truthful. Allow your attorney's legal expertise to guide you, and do not give credence to statements such as, "you better sign this, or my attorney says you'll lose everything." This is a not-uncommon tactic that you should do your best to ignore.