Most divorce articles you read will tell you what to do as the spouse who files for divorce. But, what if you’re the spouse served with divorce papers? Then what?
Getting served may catch you off guard. However, this is no reason to proceed through the divorce process in a clumsy way. In fact, it should serve as a wake up call to remind you of your rights and to take proper steps to protect your children and personal interests throughout the process.
In this article, we’ll discuss the general procedure you should expect after being served and five steps and tips you should keep in mind as you proceed through the divorce process.
The Divorce Process After Being Served
You’re served, now what?
Typically, the first step is retaining a DuPage, Kane, Kendall, or Will County divorce attorney. You may be tempted to proceed pro se, or by representing yourself, to save on costs. But, as we’ll discuss further down the page, this can often lengthen and complicate the divorce process, even if it saves money in the short-term.
When you meet with your Naperville divorce lawyer, you can ask questions that will help you get a better sense of how your divorce is likely to unfold. However, most follow a similar trajectory:
- Petition Filed – If you’ve been served in a divorce, your spouse has already filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Once you retain an attorney, you will need to answer this Petition by confirming or denying the allegations made throughout.
- Discovery – Many cases involve discovery, or the exchange of information. Typically, this information has to do with financials and property, though it may include other issues as well.
- Children’s Issues – Children’s issues, such as a parenting plan and child support, are often negotiated and settled well before a divorce is over.
- Final Judgment and Marital Settlement Agreement – Your Judgment and Marital Settlement Agreement are filed together and conclude your divorce. The Marital Settlement Agreement divides property in your case.
Of course, the road through all of these filings and negotiations are unpredictable and different in every case. However, hiring a skilled divorce attorney in Naperville to represent your best interests in DuPage county or elsewhere is a determinative factor in whether your case moves along and your satisfaction with the final outcome of your case.
The only difference in being filed against rather than being the spouse who files the divorce is the first steps in the case, as the filing spouse will file the Petition whereas you will file an Answer to this Petition. Moreover, the filing spouse is responsible for filing costs. Otherwise, the trajectory of a divorce is the same as if you had filed.
Five Tips to Keep in Mind as You Proceed Throughout the Divorce Process
Regardless of whether you hire a divorce attorney or not, it’s important that you keep a few tips in mind as you progress through your case. Here are the top five we find most influential for clients:
- Understand Your Rights – If you don’t understand your rights, you’re likely to make mistakes or concessions when you shouldn’t. In fact, many attorneys who represent a spouse without an attorney on the other side are almost certain to take advantage of the spouse in making agreements they shouldn’t. While this beckons back to why it’s beneficial to have a divorce attorney, it’s important that you understand your rights at a basic level.
- Take the High Road – Your lawyer acts based off the direction you provide. This means that if you’re getting caught up in petty issues in your divorce, you may create more problems that leads to more litigation and other issues. It’s best to take the high road and make concessions where you can to expedite your case and generate an outcome that is fair to both you and your spouse.
- Keep Your Priorities Straight – Some individuals fall victim to new relationships during their divorce or other distractions. However, this often only serves to make a case more contentious. It’s best to stay focused on your divorce and taking care of yourself and your new life before adding something to the equation.
- Keep Your Children Out of the Case – Some parents use divorce as a way to fight over their children. However, this is a huge mistake. It’s best to keep your children informed of what is happening on a general level while leaving the specifics to their imaginations. Doing so will allow you to better resolve issues with your spouse while protecting the mental and emotional well-being of your children.
- Stay Focused – Divorce is distracting to anyone. However, it’s important that you remain focused on what matters both in negotiations and the grander scheme of things. Doing so will help move your case along and allow you to return to your new sense of normalcy as quickly as possible.
Take the Next Steps in Your Case at Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.
If you’ve been served in your divorce and aren’t sure where to turn, Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. can help. Larry has over 35 years of experience in divorce and family law and will ensure that all appropriate steps are taken in your case.
Divorce is never easy. Being served with divorce papers can be even more difficult if you aren’t expecting them. Protect your interests and move forward with the team at Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd..