You might be tempted to put that divorce petition in the trash can when you get it, but you have to face it. Don’t put it in a drawer or bury it in a stack of paperwork. Instead, open it up and take the next steps to prepare for your divorce.
Read the Petition
Yes, you are having a lot of emotions. Set those aside for a moment and go through the petition to find out what your responsibilities are. As a divorce lawyer from a firm like the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright can explain, the divorce documents will tell you how long you have to respond, requests for child and/or spousal support, and a lot of other great information. It might be a lot to process in one session, but pay close attention to any dates to take the next step before the time line runs out.
Talk to a Lawyer
You will need to respond to the petition, but it might be good to hire a lawyer before you do. If you can’t afford the full fees, discuss having the lawyer help you draft a response to the demands of the petition instead of helping you through the full divorce. If you have an EAP with your work, you may qualify for legal assistance. Having a lawyer on your side can help you save money long-term, so don’t just think about the immediate need, but consider all the benefits.
Respond to the Petition
Failing to respond to the petition will put you behind the eight-ball. If you don’t respond, the court may enter a default divorce against you. You may lose some rights if you don’t respond. It’s important to remember that responding doesn’t make the divorce final, but it is the next most important step in the process.
Your lawyer will need information from you about your financial situation. Gather tax documents, usually for the last three years, birth certificates, mortgage documents, bank account information and anything else that establishes your financial position. Your lawyer may also give you information about protecting your accounts and assets as the divorce progresses.
Protect Your Communication
At the very least, change your passwords on all your accounts, banks, social media, email, and any other place you don’t want your spouse to gain access. Use a password your spouse wouldn’t guess. Ideally, you may even want to set up a new email account and set your social media to high privacy. You may need to change banking information, but make sure to check with your lawyer.
Contact a divorce attorney to get more information.