It isn’t uncommon for clients to be surprised by divorce papers. Since communication frequently breaks down during marital strain, it’s normal for one spouse to be filing for divorce after years of unhappiness while the other spouse is completely blindsided by the divorce. If you’ve just been served, you’re likely feeling a whirlwind of emotions—especially if this was not something you were anticipating. Though being served may feel overwhelming, you can get through this; you have options. And, when all else fails, remember: no one dies from divorce. Although your marriage may be ending, you have a chance to begin a new chapter of your life.
Accept that It May Be Too Late
If you’ve been served divorce papers, there is a good chance that it’s too late to save the marriage. For the most part, people do not just wake up and leave their marriage on a random whim. In most cases, the divorce has been a long time coming. Your partner may, or may not have, communicated their dissatisfaction to you in a clear and easily understandable way. Regardless, whether or not you knew or should have known is irrelevant. You can try to reconcile with your spouse and save the marriage. However, if you have been served divorce papers, you should not let your attempts to reconcile stand in the way of you looking out for yourself and your best interests.
They Probably Won’t Get Everything They Asked For
Did your spouse ask for alimony, child support, full custody of the children, the house, and the dog while offering you the keurig and split custody of the cat? Don’t worry, this is normal. While the vast majority of petitions aren’t so blatantly one sided, your ex may be asking for a lot, and that can be overwhelming. However, you can breathe a sigh of relief: almost nobody gets everything they asked for in the petition. It’s kind of like housing prices in a buyer’s market. A seller may list the house at a higher price and then negotiate based on the offers they have. In the divorce petition, your ex likely asked for too much—and that’s okay. You’ll likely be able to negotiate and reach a reasonable compromise.
Plan Your Future
Even if you plan on attempting to save the marriage, you should begin planning for your post divorce life. Divorce can be extremely expensive, especially if you’re going through a high-conflict divorce. Furthermore, a lot of people find that their expenses have stayed roughly the same but their income has been cut in half. If you have been served divorce papers, you will likely benefit from creating a budget for your future. Having a plan for your money and future may help you feel less overwhelmed and more in control of your situation. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to pay alimony or child support. If this is a possibility for you, you may want to factor this into your divorce.
Open a second checking account as soon as you possibly can. Though your income is typically considered a marital asset until you’re separated or divorced, you may still want to open a checking account as a form of protection. If your spouse cleans out everything in the joint checking account, there may be very few options for getting the money back. The aforementioned is especially true if the money has already been spent. If you have joint credit card accounts, you may attempt to remove your name, lower the credit limit, or close down the card entirely, depending on your circumstances.
Prioritize Your Wants
If you’re like most people going through a divorce, you don’t have infinite time and money. For this reason, you’ll want to prioritize what’s important enough for you to fight over in court. Unfortunately for many couples, divorce involves a lot of compromise. When you start the divorce process, knowing which issues to invest your time and energy into may make navigating the process a lot smoother. For example, if the most important thing is keeping the house, you will need to figure out a way to make that happen. And, it might involve giving up some things you would have liked to have. However, if you’re prepared to do this, it could make the negotiation process a whole lot faster.
Consult an Attorney
If you’ve been served with papers, you need to consult an attorney immediately. Perhaps you really do have one of those incredibly rare situations where you can get a divorce without a lawyer. But, for the vast majority of cases, a lawyer results in a better experience. Even if you don’t plan on retaining a lawyer, you should at the very least have a consultation with an attorney. At CoilLaw, our attorneys can help walk you through the divorce process. We have experience in helping clients through divorces of all kinds. If you’re ready to start over, contact CoilLaw today.