Whether you saw this coming or you had no idea, getting served with your divorce papers is a stressful and sometimes highly emotional situation.
You have just concluded that your marriage is completely over, if you like it or not. You now must figure out how to respond to these divorce papers for your wife or your husband.
It’s just not an experience anyone wants to go through. But, while you are going through this time in your life, you will want to continue reading your step by step guide that will lead you through this sobering experience.
Step 1: Being Served with Divorce Papers
If you know divorce papers are coming your way, you should NEVER try to avoid being served. Let’s just get that out of the way. It does not and will not end well that way either.
When you finally get served with your divorce papers, you are going to want to look them over and read every single page.
What Happens When You Get Served Divorce Papers?
When you get served with divorce papers, like we have mentioned above, you are going to need to look them over and file a response with the court.
Getting served with divorce papers typically means the marriage is not salvageable, between the parties.
How Long Do I Have to Sign Divorce Papers?
While doing this you are going to want to make any notes of any dates listed on these divorce papers. When we say dates, we mean the date that you will need to have filed your response with the court. To be on the safe side, you should mark that date on your calendar, whether that is in your phone or in your home somewhere.
Typically, the court will give you around three or so weeks for you to file your response to the court, but you do not want to miss that very important date.
Please Note: By you NOT responding, this won’t STOP the divorce from happening. All this will do is tell the court that you are not interested in being involved within this divorce and they can go through this process WITHOUT you.
Another Note: If you and your spouse have a temporary custody order, and you decide to not respond, your spouse may have the chance to take the children AND have sole custody of the children until the hearing date. Therefore, you should ALWAYS respond and read over the papers thoroughly.
Step Two: What to do? Hire Legal Counsel
Right here, you will have a few options, if you were served with your divorce papers. If money is not an issue for you, then it may be best to hire a private attorney.
If that is the route you want to go down, then you should start looking for one immediately. As we said, you will only have around three weeks for you to file your response with the court.
However, if money is an issue in your situation, and you have been served with your divorce papers, you will want to investigate using a legal advocacy group instead of using a private attorney.
A legal advocacy group will help you with your legal representation in court. They will help you get your paperwork filled out, organized, and compiled together. They will not be there in the courtroom, but they will ensure you are ready to represent yourself in court to the best of their ability.
Step Three: File Your Response with the Court
When you finally file your response with the court on your divorce papers, the judge will more than likely want to have a meeting with your spouse and you to see if you can settle this case civilly, or if this is going to be a battle for life or death.
If your spouse along with yourself agree to settle this case civilly and can agree to majority of the stipulations that goes along with the divorce such as who will have the primary residence, who will have the children most of the time, etc. then this divorce will be easy, quick process.
By chance, if you and your spouse are not able to come with some sort of compromises on the stipulations of your divorce, then it is not time to worry just yet. This will not mean you are going to have such a messy divorce and it is going to drag on forever and a day. This doesn’t even mean that you will have to go to trial. Because, we can assure you that only about 5-percent of divorces actually go to trial, the other 19 cases will typically always be settled outside of the courtroom.
Step Four: Find a Mediator
For many of the divorces, the next logical step will be to seek out a mediator for their services after you have served your divorce papers.
What is a mediator, you may ask?
A mediator is going to be a third party who will remain neutral. The mediator will help your spouse and you to come to mutual agreements as you both are going through this divorce.
Step Five: Compose a Child Plan
If you and your spouse do not have children, you can skip this step.
Now, if you do indeed have children with one another, you and your spouse will be required to create a child plan or what is also known as a parenting plan, which will give you and your spouse time with your children.
If you cannot agree to a plan, the mediator from step four can help you in most cases. It is best to settle this among each other, because you may or may not like what the judge must stay, if he or she must come up with a plan for you.
Step Six: Settle Outside or Inside Court
Now, you are going to be finally at the point of either needing to settle inside or outside of the courtroom.
If you and your spouse have agreed to just about everything, your divorce should, for the most part, be ready to be finalized. If your spouse and you were having issues, you may have a court date set up already.
Now, if you have a court date already set up, you do not have to settle at that court date. Most divorces will get settled prior to the court date.
However, we will say that it is going to benefit you, in the long run, to come to a settlement with your spouse. This is since court cases such as these can cost you a lot of money and drag on for months and sometimes years.
Your legal counsel will help you weigh out your options as to what to choose.
Step Seven: Now What? Start a New Life
After your divorce has been finalized, you are going to feel worn out and, in some cases, traumatized. It is going to be a natural feeling, to be honest.
Now, it is going to be the hardest part… starting over. Yes, you will need to take care of your financial situation all from scratch now. You were either left the house and/or debt, along with having to rebuild a life that you once thought was comfortable.
This process can take months to a few years to get back on track, but in the end, this step will be completely up to you and how you look at it.