Even if you know it’s coming, being served with divorce papers can be an emotional experience. For many people, it’s also the first moment that an impending divorce feels “real,” and that means that being served with divorce papers can be extremely stressful as you try to sort out all the things you need to do. In this post, we have an overview of your most important next steps.
Get a Lawyer
If you don’t already have a divorce lawyer, this should be your first priority. Even if your divorce is relatively amicable, a lawyer can guide you through every step of the process and ensure that you are protected. If you have children or any large assets (shared or not), you should retain a lawyer before responding to any documentation about the divorce.
Familiarize Yourself with the Divorce Process
While the general process is similar across the country, you should review the entire process and all documentation that is required for a divorce (you can review information on New Hampshire divorces on the state’s website). You can also probably get information about any necessary waiting periods, typical timelines, etc.
Begin Gathering Paperwork
Your attorney will have detailed information for you, but you should start gathering all documentation about finances (personal as well as shared). Do not move any assets at this point in time, and review any accounts in which your spouse may have access to confirm that they haven’t moved any, either (if they have, inform your attorney immediately).
Make an Initial Agreement for Shared Space and/or Childcare
Cohabitation is sometimes necessary at this stage of the process, but it can be extremely stressful. Even if you were not the person seeking out a divorce, consider taking the first step to maintain some comfort in the home. Above all, continue to respect your partner’s belongings and space to avoid claims that might be used against you.
If you have children, do your best to work with your spouse to ensure that your children are safe and comfortable. It can be helpful to start setting up new habits based on past routines (perhaps one parent always makes breakfast, and another always picks the kids up after school). In addition, you may want to speak to the school counselor and/or your children’s teachers to let them know of the change in the child’s home environment.
Take Care of Yourself
No matter what, divorce can be an extremely stressful point of upheaval and change. Your mental and physical health will be impacted by your ability to handle stress in this situation. Reaching out to support networks, going to therapy, and simply treating yourself with kindness can be vital steps to keep yourself safe and healthy during this process.
If you are getting or considering a divorce, contact us to figure out your next steps!