I’ve Been Served With Divorce Papers – What’s Next?
Finding yourself suddenly served with divorce papers can be an unpleasant shock under the best of circumstances and a traumatic surprise in the worst-case scenarios. It is important not to panic, and you don’t make the mistake of ignoring the proceedings. Failing to act, or acting irrationally, can cost you dearly. Knowing what to do when you’ve been served with divorce papers can help you avoid stressful situations.
What’s In the Divorce Documentation?
At the time, the divorce documentation you’ve just received may seem like nothing more than a stack of paperwork that is effectively destroying the world as you knew it. In reality, the divorce documentation includes vital details pertaining to the legal challenges you now face.
Divorce paperwork will include the name of each party involved in the divorce, the date and location the marriage took place at, the names of any children under the age of 18, and an acknowledgment that at least one of the parties has lived in North Carolina for at least six months prior to the filing date.
It will also include the formal “complaint”, notarized verification that the complaint is legitimate, civil summons that identify the spouse you are summoning to court, and a legal judgment.
Claims In Divorce Paperwork
It is important to make note of any claims that are being made within the divorce documentation that could impact your life after the divorce has been granted by the courts. These claims could include child support, spousal support (alimony), custody/visitation arrangements, property division, and anything associated with the dissolution of the marriage.
You may need to challenge these claims in court later before the divorce is formally granted. Failing to challenge these claims could lead to you being legally obligated to make payments to your former spouse for an indeterminate amount of time.
After you have received the divorce documentation and gone through it to review all of the claims being made, it is extremely important to remain calm. This might be easier said than done, but it is in your best interest to try to keep a clear head. Getting angry and acting on that anger could damage your case and do you a great deal of harm in the long run.
Avoid responding angrily at your former spouse, going to their home, visiting their place of employment, calling them, or sending text messages or emails. Do your best to stay calm and avoid lashing out at your spouse in any way, as it can negatively affect you down the road in the divorce proceedings.
Organize Your Paperwork
After you are served with divorce papers, you typically have just thirty days to respond. You will need to organize all relevant documentation and paperwork as soon as possible, and consider immediately having a consultation with a family law attorney.
Staying organized will help you when the time comes to appear in court or provide guidance should you need to ask for an extension. Ultimately, being organized can make a stressful situation easier to manage.
How Long Will Everything Take?
After being served with divorce papers and getting over the initial shock that being served has caused, you may find yourself wondering how long the entire divorce process will take. Currently, you are given thirty days to respond after being served before a hearing is scheduled. Your attorney may also want to file counterclaims in your case.
After the hearing is scheduled, if you are not contesting the divorce, then the divorce can be granted immediately following that hearing, but a schedule will also be set up for the handling of the other claims in your case.
What If I Don’t Agree?
A contested divorce means you do not agree to your spouse’s grounds for divorce and do not want the marriage to come to an end. In some states, contesting a divorce can significantly slow the divorce process. In North Carolina, contesting a divorce does not stall or delay the process in any significant way.
This means that even if you do not agree with the divorce and seek to contest it, the divorce proceedings can continue and the divorce will eventually be granted. The other claims pending in your case will also be resolved by agreement, or by a court hearing.
Contact Our Carteret County Divorce Attorneys
It’s important to have an experienced family law attorney by your side through the process to help protect your rights, and your family. The team at Schulz Stephenson Law has the experience to help you navigate your divorce case, including a resolution of all claims that have been filed in your case.
Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation today!