What to do when you have been served with divorce papers?
When you get served with divorce or dissolution paperwork, or you find out that your spouse may have filed the paperwork but you haven’t yet been served, it’s time to start thinking about how you are going to respond.
After you are served with a petition for divorce, it’s time to consider your options. At this point, your personal circumstances matter very much. Some of the factors I would encourage you to consider include: Is the divorce going to be amicable or highly contentions? Is there domestic violence involved? Do you have minor children? Is there a substantial amount of property, assets or debt?
If this is a divorce that will be uncontested or proceed via consent or mediation, you have several options:
If you are in complete agreement with the petition filed by your spouse, and it addresses all potential issues in your divorce, then you have the option of doing nothing. In this event, your spouse may secure a divorce (dissolution) by default under all the terms contained in the petition. I would encourage you to consult with an attorney to make sure that you do indeed agree with all the provisions in the petition, you understand the long-term effects of the terms, and, it does indeed address all potential issues.
If the petition is close to what you want but not quite there, or not all issues are addressed, then you need to file a response. A general denial will not work. In your response you must be specific about what you agree with, what you disagree with, and what you would like to see happen to resolve your divorce. After you file the response, we can work towards a mediated settlement agreement, marital settlement agreement, or consent decree.
If you and your spouse are miles apart, it is even more important that you consult with an attorney, even if you end up filing the paperwork yourself. You will need assistance navigating the pre-decree portion of your case regarding temporary orders, exclusive use of the house, temporary spousal or child support etc. Other issues to be prepared to tackle include property division, child custody (legal decision making) parenting time, support and possible business valuation. In highly contentious divorces, you need to be prepared for trial.
Whatever direction your divorce takes, we have family law lawyers in Mesa, Arizona and Eugene, Oregon to help you with your divorce. Feel free to contact us with questions we are here to help.