One of the most stressful moments is when you are served with divorce papers. Although upsetting you should try to remain calm. Take a moment to sit down and slowly read the papers. Read your divorce papers at least two times; you won’t understand all the legal jargon the first time around.
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When one spouse files for divorce they must serve the other spouse with divorce papers. These divorce papers include a petition, summons, proof of service and a response form.
The most important thing to remember is that you have to respond. If you don’t respond to the served divorce papers, your spouse can request that the case proceed without you. In California, you have 30 days from the day you were served with divorce papers.
If you have not already done so, start to gather information that you will need in your case. You should first locate and make copies of all financial records, tax filings, retirement accounts, most recent bank records, current credit card statements, current pay-stubs, and insurance policies. Next, you should makes a list of all assets and all liabilities; this is to include personal property such as vehicles, furniture, electronics, tools, works of art, collections, kitchen ware, and other items you have accumulated during your marriage. Take picture of your home and your personal property.
Delete or restrict access to your social media accounts. You do not want your soon-to-be ex-spouse or their friends to have access to information which may be used against you.
If you elect to proceed with an attorney, take this time to interview potential lawyers. The initial consultation should help you to understand the divorce process, help you identify the goals you wish to achieve, and give you an idea of how comfortable you will be with that attorney.
With 30 days of receiving your divorce papers, you, or your attorney must answer the Complaint for Divorce which was served with your divorce papers. Once you have answered the Complaint, your case is officially opened and the California County Superior Court where your case was filed will schedule your first hearing. You will also be required to exchange financial information with your spouse.
If you are unable to settle your case prior to the initial hearing, you will be ordered to attend mediation where you and your spouse will spend time with a mediator in an attempt to resolve the issues surrounding your case. If you are unable to settle your matter with the mediator, the judge will schedule your case for trial. At trial, your attorney will present evidence and testimony to prove why the court should decide in your favor.
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