Even if you have been long anticipating the end of your marriage, when your spouse actually serves you with divorce papers, it can be emotionally hard to deal with the situation. But it is important that you take immediate action towards protecting your legal rights upon receiving the papers. How your divorce proceedings go will have a major impact on your personal and financial life post-divorce.
These are a few steps you should take after being served with divorce papers.
Read the Papers Thoroughly
Divorce papers may contain a significant amount of information that you should be aware of. Hence, it is important that you go through the divorce papers very carefully. The papers would include the court where the action is filed. This particular information is useful in the case of estranged or separated spouses that live in different states.
The divorce papers will also include a deadline by which you are expected to provide a reply or an answer. Furthermore, the divorce paper will indicate whether an attorney has been hired by your spouse or if the paperwork is filed on their own. Divorce papers sometimes allege grounds for divorce as well. They may also include information about spousal support, child support, requests by the moving party, child custody, division of property, and other concerns related to children.
Provide an “Answer”
The divorce papers would indicate the number of required days you get to respond to the petition or complaint. Generally, this is 30 days from the date when you were served with the actual papers. However, it’s critical that you are aware of the deadline and don’t accidentally let it pass without responding. If you enable the deadline to pass without giving any response, the other spouse may possibly receive everything that they requested in the divorce paperwork.
You are required to respond to the divorce complaint in Alabama with an “Answer” document. This is a point-by-point response to the complaint that explains the parts that you agree with and the parts that you challenge. The answer will also outline the legal defenses in brief.
Normally, respondents consult with experienced divorce attorneys to frame the reply. However, the law provides individuals with the liberty of providing a response on their own. Without a response, you would be forfeiting your legal rights and arguments. Typically, you would need to reply to every numbered statement in the divorce complaint. You cannot simply issue a general denial of everything written in it.
You are not required to verify the answer by oath under Alabama law. The answer you provide is not a sworn statement and cannot be used as evidence during a trial. The sole purpose of an answer is to clarify the issues raised in the case.
Hire an Experienced Auburn, AL Divorce Lawyer
Divorce can result in dramatic changes in your life. It is important that you hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will review the paperwork and inform you about your legal options and right. They can advocate for your rights if the case becomes contested.
It is particularly important that you retain an attorney if your spouse has one. Otherwise, you will find yourself on uneven footing. You may need the attorney to file the answer and/or for court representation.
Gather all Relevant Documents
If you decide to retain an attorney to take care of the divorce matters, they will ask you to bring certain documents to the initial consultation. Preliminary documents may include birth certificates, social security cards, and your marriage certificate among other information.
You may also need to gather documents that demonstrate your financial situation. This may include bank statements, tax returns of the past three years, and credit card statements. It is helpful if you identify household assets, debt, and income.
Protect Your Assets
You should consider ways to protect your assets. Your attorney can help you determine whether you should remove 50% of the funds in joint accounts. You should also consider setting up a separate account and reroute funds to that one if you ever deposited any money in the joint account directly.
You may want to consider ways to save since divorce can quickly escalate and become expensive. It is recommended that you pull a credit report for checking your financial wellbeing and for finding out any recent debt that you may not be aware of.
Be Mindful of All Communication
You should be careful about rerouting mail if your divorce is not mutual. Your lawyers may send letters containing strategic plans. Post office boxes are great for protecting the privacy and confidential communication.
Consult with a Reputable Auburn, AL Alabama Divorce Attorney
Divorces are difficult periods, but they don’t have to be. The compassionate and effective lawyers at the Alsobrook Law Group are experienced in handling all matters related to divorce. Schedule a free initial consultation today by calling us at 334-737-3718 or using our online form.