Sometimes it is expected, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere – but being served with divorce papers means that the process is starting. Even if you knew it was coming, getting papers in hand can set up a range of emotions. Our job is to help get you through this troubling time. If you just got served with divorce papers, read on to see what to do next:
1. Hire a lawyer. Divorces, even the ones which everyone seems to agree at the outset, can get messy. Emotions run high, and a lawyer can give you the unbiased and unemotional advice you desperately need in this time. Even family members have a vested interest in your life, and may not be able to give you the truth as is necessary in a civil case
2. If you have been served with papers YOU DO NOT NEED TO APPEAR IN COURT ON THE RETURN DATE! The return date is the date that your spouse’s attorney must file the executed complaint with the court. This allows the court to give the case a docket number and start the process.
3. Review the complaint and any motions you might also get. The court has automatic orders that apply in all divorce cases. You should be aware of them because it impacts financial decisions you might make. Don’t violate the automatic orders or you run the risk of penalty.
4. Pendente Lite Motions. After the return date, your attorney can advocate for your best interests by filing requests with the court. These requests may be resolved by agreement or may require a hearing in front of the Judge. Such requests can be for alimony, bill payments, child custody, visitation, or other matters that should be addressed right away. Such Orders last for the period of the divorce proceedings until final judgment.
5. Financial Affidavit. A financial affidavit is a very important document that must be sworn to after it is properly filled out. Your attorney will work with you to make sure it is as accurate as possible prior to handing it into the court. Start compiling your financial information by printing credit card statements, bank statements and investment account statements so you have hard copies on hand.
6. Case Management Date. Upon filing your complaint with the Court, your attorney will receive a case management date. This date indicates when the 90 day period ends. There are certain documents that the court must receive by this date, however after this date a final judgment of divorce can be entered.
7. Keep your Attorney updated! It is very important to notify your attorney if there are any changes that occur in your life. Attorneys like to stay current with how situations are working out and what things are not working in order to better determine what will meet your needs.
Have more questions? Give me a call at 203-925-9200 and we can discuss your situation.
Attorney Stephen Lebedevitch