Your usual night alone at home with the kids begins and ends with certain routines. You make them dinner, give them baths, read them bedtime stories then kiss them goodnight. All this happens while your wife works the second shift and then departs for a night of barhopping with friends.
However, this night there is an unexpected interruption. While you are giving them baths, you hear a knock at the door. The messenger is someone you do not recognize. He asks you to confirm your identity and then plops a set of documents in your hand. You have been served divorce papers. Out of sight of your kids, you grab a ceramic figurine from the table and hurl it against the wall, smashing it to pieces.
Peruse documents and hire lawyer
Your reaction was not unexpected, but now you must regain your composure. This is serious, and you knew things splintered between you and your wife. But now you must prepare for divorce. Here are some things you should immediately do when served with divorce papers:
- Once the news has set in, try to remain calm.
- Read the divorce papers and digest every detail such as those addressing division of assets, child custody, child support and alimony. You will find a lot of personal information you did not expect to see. And you have a deadline to answer.
- Avoid contacting your spouse. She has stated her case through the divorce papers, and there is likely no turning back.
- Retain an attorney. Obtain referrals from friends and contact potential candidates. An attorney can help you provide your legal response.
- Gather your personal financial documents. This includes mortgage statements, bank account and money market statements and retirement account records. By doing this, you will help determine what is marital property and non-marital property. Your wife’s attorney will ask for this information, anyway. In addition, you may find out whether she hid some assets.
Preparation is essential. Is reconciliation possible? Perhaps not. It is time to go forward, trying to get this divorce matter settled as swiftly as possible