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4 Steps to Take Immediately After Getting Served With Divorce Papers

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4 Steps to Take Immediately After Getting Served With Divorce Papers

Maybe you knew it was coming. Maybe it was a total shock. But you’ve now been served with the Summons and Complaint that starts the divorce process.
 
What you do within the next several days will make a huge impact on your divorce case.
 
 
Getting served with divorce papers can be a devastating experience. Your emotions could range from shock, to resignation, to anger.
 
But you’re going to need a clear head for what’s ahead.
 
So take steps to get as clear and as focused as you can. Even if that means exercising some self-care or seeing a therapist. You don’t have a lot of time to respond (see below), but you can take an hour or two at least.
 
While you’re doing that, talk yourself out of making any drastic moves. Now is not the time to move out of the marital home, for example. A legal process has started, but you don’t have to give up anything yet, and should not.
 
 

2. Organize documents and paperwork.

 
You need to make sure you have copies of all the records which will become important during your divorce case.
 
This includes information on all your bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds, real property, and assets like cars or trucks. You need statements from accounts both in your name and in your spouse’s name, as well as joint accounts.
 
Fidelity Investments has a very nice checklist that you can print out and use.
 
If you have children, school records and medical records could become important.
 
Get at least three months of statements, where applicable. Put it all into one large binder or file box. You’ll save some time, money, and headache by taking the time to get organized. And you need to do it now, just in case your spouse tries to keep these records out of your hands. Otherwise you’ll spend more going through the discovery process later.
 
 

3. Take steps to protect yourself financially.

 
If you have a job, open your own bank account and begin sending your paychecks there. If you don’t have a job, consult with your lawyer about how much you can safely withdraw from the joint account. Then, set up your own.
 
Cancel any joint credit cards to stop the accumulation of marital debt.
 
Talk to your lawyer about other steps you should take.
 
 

4. Find a lawyer immediately.

 
You have just 30 days to answer the Summons and Complaint that kicks off your divorce. If you don’t, you could lose your right to contest whatever divorce settlement your ex cooks up.
 
And even if it seems good to you on paper, it’s a good idea to ask a family lawyer to look over it to make sure it’s really fair and in keeping with Pennsylvania family law. You don’t have to fight every single point, but you want to make sure you’re not giving up important rights.
 
 
Are you facing a divorce? Don’t do it alone. Call for a free consultation today.
 
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Sadek and Cooper Law Offices, LLC