Some married couples may foresee the possibility of their divorce for weeks or even years. In other instances, one spouse does not exhibit any signs of divorce and serves the divorce papers with no warning.
In the instance that you are the one who receives the divorce paper, take immediate action to protect your future and legal rights.
1. Review the divorce papers
After receiving the papers, closely read over the contents of the divorce—notice which court your spouse filed the divorce action in. The documents should also list if your spouse is filing the paperwork independently or if an attorney is working on their behalf.
Pay attention to the grounds for divorce and what your spouse requested, including information about the division of property, child custody, child support and alimony.
2. Gather essential documents
You will likely need to gather preliminary identification documents, including birth certificates, social security cards, and your marriage certificate. Organize your important financial documents such as bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, pay stubs, stocks and other assets.
Keeping a file of necessary paperwork will help you stay organized for the divorce and prepare you for meeting with attorneys for initial consultations.
3. Protect communications
During the divorce, set up new ways to receive your mail to avoid interception by your soon-to-be-ex. Protect your confidential attorney communications by setting up a P.O. box or asking a loved one to use their address. If you have a joint email with your spouse, set up a personal email address for future communications with your legal counsel.
Although receiving the news of divorce can feel overwhelming, the above measures will help you prepare for your new reality.