By: Anne Brockman
You just received divorce papers in the mail and you may be wondering what to do next. Whether you and your spouse have discussed getting a divorce or not, it is an overwhelming feeling knowing the divorce process has officially begun and documents have been filed. We often receive frantic phone calls in our office from potential clients who don’t know what steps to take next. Read the tips below to ease your nerves and have an idea of what to expect moving forward:
1. Divorce Petition- The first step in a divorce case is filing a divorce petition. When you receive divorce documents in the mail or through in-person service, you are essentially receiving a copy of the divorce petition your spouse has filed. The divorce petition states basic biographical information such as your name, address, employment information, date of marriage, date of separation, and whether you and your spouse have minor children born of your marriage. The divorce petition does not divide your marital assets or determine parenting time with your children. The divorce petition merely starts your case through the Court system and provides basic information. After you receive a copy of the divorce petition, you have twenty (20) days to file a Response to the petition in which you admit or deny the allegations your spouse has stated in their petition.
2. Seeking Legal Advice/Filing Response- Once you receive the divorce petition, it is important you seek legal advice and counsel as soon as possible due to the (20) day Response window stated above. At an initial consultation with our office, we offer comprehensive legal advice on the division of your marital assets such as a marital home, retirement accounts, personal property, automobiles, and marital debt. We also offer information regarding custody, parenting time, and child support (if minor children are involved in your divorce case). It is important you ask the attorney any questions that come to mind. There is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to divorce proceedings. It is also important that you disclose all information possible to the attorney you are speaking with so they can provide you with the best advice possible based on your financial situation and your children’s needs. No case is alike, and it is important you are open and candid with your attorney. It is helpful to bring any paperwork that has been filed in your case with you to the consultation and to make a list of questions you wish to discuss with your attorney. If you would like to schedule a consultation with our office, please call our office number at (859)-322-5550. We are currently offering in-person and Zoom consultations.
3. Retaining an Attorney/Filing a Response- Once you have sought legal advice, it is important that you formally retain the attorney’s services. Generally, this means paying the attorney’s quoted fees and signing an Attorney/Client contract. From there, your attorney will assist you in filing a Response, reaching out to your spouse’s attorney (if they have retained one), and begin collecting documents to assist in familiarizing themselves with your case. Generally, your attorney will want to see your pay stubs, W2s, bank statements, credit card statements, the deed to your marital home, Kelly Blue Book values of your automobiles, the balance of your mortgage note, and any other information that might be helpful in divorce negotiations. It is important to start collecting this information early, as some information may take some time to gather.
4. Negotiating your Case- After you have retained your attorney, filed a Response, and provided your attorney with all relative information pertaining to your case, the negotiation phase of your case begins. If you and your spouse are amicable, most cases can be settled outside of Court through a mediation. Be sure to ask your attorney if they feel mediation is an option in your case. In our office, we generally try to reach an agreement outside of Court through a mediation or joint meeting between the parties. Obviously, not all cases are suited for a mediation and it is important you listen to your attorney to know what works best for you and your case. During this phase of the divorce process, you discuss the intricacies of your case and you and your spouse work to negotiate the division of all marital assets involved.
Going through the divorce process can be overwhelming. If you have received a divorce petition from your spouse and you need information on what to do next, reach out to our office. We are here to help.