"You've been served."
You've been served with divorce papers . . . what now?
The process server found you. This may have been the last thing you expected, but you can’t sit back and wait. You’re in a divorce lawsuit and you have things to do. What next?
Need more information? Fill out our divorce questionnaire to ask your questions to one of our attorneys.
1. Don't Miss Your Deadline
The clock started ticking the moment the papers were in your hand. You have thirty days to respond by filing an “Answer”. This is a legal document where you will deny the allegations in the “Complaint”.
What happens if I miss my deadline?
If you don’t answer in thirty days, the Court can enter a “Default” against you, giving your spouse everything they’ve asked for.
Already missed your deadline? There are steps you can take, but you must act immediately! Call 256-770-7232 to talk with a divorce attorney at Enzor & Maniscalco right away.
2. Start Thinking About Whether You Need a Lawyer
You’ll need to decide whether to get an attorney, or go it alone. If you decide to move forward pro se (representing yourself), the Court will still expect you to file legal documents on time and litigate your case at trial.
How do I know if I need a lawyer?
Generally, if you’ve been served with a Complaint for divorce, you’ve been ambushed by your spouse, who is looking for a fight. If you have children together, or property, cars, or retirement accounts, you’ll likely save money in the long run and prevent emotional trauma for yourself and your children by getting a lawyer on board to protect your interests.
3. Clean Up Your Facebook!
(And all other social media. Seriously!)
Now is the time to take down those pictures of you out at the bar with your friends. And when you get ready to blast your soon-to-be-ex on Facebook, DON’T. Try your case in Court, not online.
What you post on social media can be used against you in court, so channel your inner Mother Teresa in your Facebook posts while your divorce is going on.
4. Protect Your Children
Leave them out of it.
No matter how much you want to tell your kids how sorry your spouse is being right now, don’t give in to the temptation.
Your children are hurting too, and sharing your pain with them will only add to their problems and confusion.
Think about whether it might be a good idea to see a counselor with them, to help them process what is happening to the family. Kids need time to process their feelings and open up to someone new.
Getting a counselor involved early can save a lot of heartache later on. It also gives children a safe space to talk about their feelings without being put “in the middle” of two feuding parents.
5. Protect Yourself!
Do NOT put up with violence or threats.
If your spouse is making you feel unsafe by making verbal threats or has been physically violent towards you, take action right away.
Do not wait until it’s too late. You can seek a Protection From Abuse Order from the Court, or call 911 directly if there's an emergency. Make a police report and document everything.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 256-770-7232 to speak with an attorney.
Try to avoid situations where violence could happen. If violence has happened in the past, get yourself to a safe place. If you have to see your spouse, take someone with you.
6. Make a Financial Plan
When you divide a pie into two, no one has a whole pie anymore. Now you need two places to live, but have no extra money for the cost.
Begin to plan for how you can cut back now to ensure your financial stability in the long run.
Don’t assume you have no right to the money! All too often we hear “I haven’t worked, so that’s not my money.” This is NOT how the court views things. You are entitled to a part of any money that was used during the marriage, even if you didn’t personally earn it.
Questions about alimony, inheritance, or retirement? Call 256-770-7232 for an in depth talk about your situation and how to protect your financial future.
7. Take Care of Yourself Emotionally
Now is the time to build a team of supportive people who are on your side.
These should usually include your lawyer, a close friend or family member, and a pastor or counselor.
Don’t turn to bad habits.
Drugs and alcohol are downfalls to many people when the Court makes custody decisions. Don’t let a few bad decisions in a tough time impact your children for the rest of their lives.
What if I know my spouse uses drugs?
Tell your lawyer right away and arrange for the Court to order a drug test. The Court has a no tolerance policy for substance abuse, and will take such things extremely seriously when it comes to protecting your children.
Let us help!
We are experienced divorce litigators. Let us take this catastrophe and turn it into something positive for you and your children moving forward.
Stay strong and keep fighting. Seek quality help and advice from people you trust.
We are standing by to answer your questions and help in any way that we can. Send us an email at email@example.com or call 256-770-7232.