In some situations, you and your spouse will discuss the possibility of divorce for weeks, months, or even years. In other cases, you may be “blindsided” by these papers and have no advance warning of what happened.
Once you receive divorce papers, you need to take steps to protect your legal rights and your future. Part of this is hiring an experienced divorce lawyer.
At Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., we understand how jarring it can be to realize your marriage is ending. We are here to help with your divorce and any family law matter you encounter.
Here, you can learn more about what to do if your wife has filed for divorce to protect yourself and ensure you take the right steps.
Read the Papers Carefully
You must read the papers you receive carefully. They contain a lot of information that you will need to know.
The divorce papers will let you know where the action was filed and provide a deadline regarding when you must respond. Your divorce papers will also let you know if your spouse has filed the paperwork themselves or if they hired a divorce attorney to assist with the process.
The divorce papers will also provide you with information about the grounds for divorce. They could include information from the moving party, such as information on child custody, child support, division of property, spousal support, and other issues related to your children.
Issue Your Response
In the divorce papers, you will be given a set amount of time to respond to the petition for divorce.
Usually, you have 30 days. The 30-day period begins when you are served with the papers; however, you should double-check this information.
If the deadline passes without you responding, the other spouse may receive everything they requested in the divorce paperwork.
Usually, the person will issue a response via their attorney. However, if you can’t find the funds needed to hire an attorney, you can respond yourself. Failure to do this may result in you forfeiting your rights and any legal arguments you could make.
In most cases, it’s required that you respond to each of the numbered statements in the divorce complaint. It’s not possible to deny all the statements and be done.
Retain Legal Counsel
Filing for divorce can have a huge impact on your life. Because of this, you must retain legal counsel (if you can).
Even in situations where you agree with the divorce and the allegations made in the paperwork, your attorney can review the documents and let you know what legal options and rights you have. If the case is contested later, you have someone to help advocate for your rights and help you get the desired outcome from the divorce.
Gather Related Documentation
If you contact a divorce lawyer, they will likely request that you gather and bring specific documents when setting up an initial meeting. The main documents you may need include those with identifying information, like your Social Security card, marriage certificate, and birth certificate.
You will also need to gather your financial information and documents to show how much money you make and the past three years of tax returns, credit card statements, and bank statements. All these documents help your attorney determine your assets, income, and debts, which will be required for future purposes during the divorce proceedings.
Take Steps to Protect Your Assets
If you are going through a divorce, you must take steps to protect your assets. Some jurisdictions will require all assets to be frozen when the divorce petition is filed.
You need to know if you should remove half of the total amount in your joint accounts in the area. Your attorney can provide more information on these issues.
If your income is directly deposited into a joint checking account, you may want to think about setting up a separate bank account. Once you do this, reroute your direct deposits to the account with your name.
It may also be beneficial to look into ways you can start saving money. Divorce is expensive, and the legal fees can often be excessive. Pulling your credit report and considering your overall financial health is a good idea. This will let you know what needs to be done to protect yourself financially during and after the divorce.
Protect Your Communications
You need to make sure that you reroute your mail to avoid being detected by your spouse during the divorce process. Your divorce attorney may send you information about the case and their approach to it in the mail. You need to make sure that your spouse doesn’t intercept this information. In some cases, getting a post office box will help you protect your privacy and your confidential communications.
Preparing and Attending the Final Divorce Hearing
Before going to your divorce hearing, you need to have a plan in place with your attorney. Your divorce attorney will be able to help you better understand the divorce process.
Your attorney will review all the potential pleadings with you, review evidence and exhibits, and explain the process. They will let you know what to expect during the process and discuss how the final ruling is determined.
Hire an Experienced and Reputable Family Law Attorney to Help with Your Case
Divorce is rarely pleasant. If you find that your wife has filed for divorce, it is time to act. You need to prepare for the upcoming legal proceedings and ensure that you protect yourself.
We can help with your divorce case and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Are you ready to learn more about our services and how we can help? If so, get in touch today. We will be happy to schedule an initial meeting and discuss your needs. With years of experience in the family law arena, you can count on us to help you get the best possible outcome for your divorce case.