Whether it was expected or not, being served with divorce paperwork can come as a shock to some. Regardless of the situation, you cannot just ignore that stack of papers. To find out what your next few moves should be after you have been served, read on.

What Happens If You Don't Respond?

A divorce petition deserves and requires an answer. To understand why that is necessary, you might want to read through the documents at your earliest convenience. The petition (prayer for relief, complaint, etc.) outlines what your spouse is alleging and what they want out of the divorce. In the petition, you will find out about:

  • Grounds for the divorce. While no-fault divorce is common and you can get divorced for no reason at all, grounds can be named.
  • Parenting issues. Child custody, visitation, child support, and other parenting issues are addressed in the petition.
  • Debt issues. Who needs to pay any marital debts is listed.
  • Property issues. Marital property (property owned by both parties) must be divided.

If you don't respond to the petition, it will be assumed that you agree with all provisions therein, and a default divorce decree with be issued.

Respond to the Petition

Once you've read the divorce papers, contact a divorce lawyer. Each item listed in the petition is refuted or agreed upon by the answering petition. What is left is the disputed issues that will need to be worked out during the divorce. Any issues not agreed upon are:

  • Negotiated by the lawyers.
  • Discussed during settlement agreements meetings.
  • Disclosed during depositions.
  • Worked out during divorce mediation.
  • Decided upon by the judge.

Follow up Orders

You can also expect to be served with papers requesting financial information and more. In divorce, full financial disclosure is necessary and you might be asked to submit information about income, assets, and more. Also, you can expect to be provided with temporary orders that apply to things like:

  • Where minor children live for the time being.
  • Temporary child support and/or spousal support provisions.
  • Who gets the use of the family home or vehicle for the time being.
  • Who is responsible for paying what bills during the separation period.

Follow your divorce lawyer's advice about divorce provisions and don't get take advantage of. The decisions made during divorce will continue to affect you and your children for years to come. If you are interested in more information, contact a divorce lawyer.