Book an appointment using SetMore

Surprise divorce papers may be culmination of long-term plan

One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce is that you may be served with divorce papers out of the blue by your spouse without you ever expecting it. Most people are not huge fans of surprises especially surprises like a divorce case. A divorce case touches on so many different areas of your life that it can seem like things are spiraling out of control in that you are not able to get a hold on anyone area now that this case is a part of your life. However, you need to understand that if you have been served with divorce papers then you have a responsibility to yourself and your family to engage in and participate in the divorce process. 

A major challenge that you would face if you are served with divorce papers out of the blue is that your spouse is likely far ahead of you in terms of planning and preparing for this divorce. While the divorce may have been a surprise to you it obviously was not to your spouse. He or she has likely been thinking about divorce for an extended period of time and by hiring an attorney and having the papers served on you it shows that he or she has put some degree of thought, effort and money into this case. It is up to you how to respond. 

Do not assume that just because you are having to play catch up with preparation for the divorce that you will forever be at a disadvantage. There is information you can learn and planning that you can engage in That will help you too do better in your divorce then you might otherwise have been able to. In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We will share some information with you about what it means to file, respond to and proceed with a divorce in Texas. 

The big difference between filing for divorce and responding to a divorce 

Within a single divorce case there are two parties. The first party is called the petitioner. The petitioner is the party who files the divorce and is obligated to serve notice of the divorce process on the other party. The spouse who does not file for divorce and must respond to the divorce filing is known as the respondent. I am often asked whether it is better to be the petitioner or respondent in our divorce. In reality, there is no legal benefit to being either the respondent or the petitioner. However, there is a benefit to be the petitioner in one important regard.

The most significant advantage that a petitioner has over the respondent in a divorce is that the petitioner has the ability to plan and think ahead about the divorce and the case itself. On the other hand, the respondent is sometimes caught off guard with the divorce filing they may be at a deficit of months compared to the petitioner. If your spouse serves divorce papers on you then you probably need to get up to speed on what the issues of your case are and how you are going to defend your rights. 

The first thing that may catch your eye about your spouse filing for divorce is that he or she has hired an attorney. In your wildest dreams you may have never envisioned your spouse hiring a lawyer to represent him or her and in a divorce. Your assumption was that, even if he were to get a divorce, neither of you would hire an attorney and would instead work to resolve the case on your own. However, now that you have actually had divorcee preserve on you it is apparent that your spouse is going to in list the help of an attorney during the case. 

Once it becomes apparent to you that your spouse is going to have an attorney in the case then it becomes a necessity for you to have one, as well. The fact of the matter is that when your spouse has an attorney it becomes essential for you to have one as well. That's not to say that you are ill equipped to make decisions for yourself or that you are not intelligent enough to understand the issues of your divorce. What it does mean is that if you are not familiar with the divorce process or about this specific steps to take during a divorce to have your case be completed then it is a smart idea for you to have someone in your corner who knows the process very well. 

Once you have made the decision to hire an attorney you should meet with multiple family law attorneys in order to determine whether or not he or she is a good fit for your council and whether you will be able to work closely with him or her on your case. If you interview multiple attorneys and make a sincere effort to ask questions that will allow you to learn more about their attitude, experience and opinions about your case then you will be well served. Hiring a family law attorney is essential. Do not assume that you can hire a general practice attorney and that he or she will be able to competently handle your divorce. 

What happens if you are served with papers first? 

One of the main concerns that people have heading into a divorce is what happens if you are in the position where you need to respond to divorce papers being served on you rather than the other way around. As I mentioned a moment ago, it can be the surprise of being served without you're expecting it which can actually be more impactful and hurtful than the actual and of your marriage. Sometimes being handed divorce papers can be a jolt of reality that you could not have prepared for. 

However, once you get past this initial jolt of unexpected bad news you have precious little time to lick your wounds. You need to be able to take your shocking surprise in apply that too getting ready for your case as best as you are able to give your circumstances. We just talked about how important it is to have an experienced family law attorney by your side in your divorce. Once you have made the decision to hire an attorney and have actually done so then you need to start preparing a strategy for your divorce case. 

Time is not always of the essence in every regard of your divorce. While it feels like you are up against an imaginary clock when you are surprised with divorce papers, the reality is that you likely have more time than you believe to prepare for your divorce. However, there are things that you should do to prepare for your divorce where time may be an issue after all. Let's walk through some of the things you should do right off the bat so that you do not lose the opportunity to do so later. 

First, you should consider photographing every room in your home in order to inventory the property contained in it. You may think that I am being over the top in doing this, but I can tell you from experience that it is not uncommon for items that you think belong to you simply find themselves “missing” once a divorce is filed. You are telling a judge that you swear that the particular item was in a particular room in your home a couple days ago is not going to be enough evidence to have that item return to you. But you should do is begin to inventory every room in your home and all the important items that you own. You will need to do this anyways for your case, but it makes sense to do so now. 

This is especially true due to the fact that you may lose access to your home at some point. Very few spouses remain living in the same home with one another during their divorce. This means that if you are the spouse who has to leave your home you may lose access to personal property and documents that you need for your divorce in post-divorce life. The best thing that you can do is to prepare for this eventuality and assume the worst. If there are financial documents or other paperwork in the home that you believe that you will need for your divorce, then you should consider making copies of those documents or at least snapping photos of the documents using your cell phone camera. Many phones have built in software available where you can actually scan a document into a PDF very easily. 

Once you have photographed the important items in your home and have a better idea about where your financial accounts stand you can begin to divide Community property in a hypothetical fashion between you and your spouse. Any property or debts that came into being during the course of your marriage is likely to be termed as community property. Since these assets and debts are subject to division in the divorce you need to begin to think about how you envision That process going. Work with your attorney to devise a realistic plan on dividing up your personal assets and debts. 

How to talk to your children about the beginning of a divorce 

if a sudden divorce was thrust upon you out of nowhere then imagine how your children will feel when they learn about the case. In some circumstances a divorce will be filed in the filing parent will essentially head for the Hills in have little contact with their spouse or children moving forward. So, it falls to you as the parent who will be remaining with the children to tell them about the case and answer their questions. The subject matter that you discuss will depend in great part on how old the kids are.

Balancing between being accurate and honest with your kids and saving them the somewhat gory details about the failings of your marriage will be a tricky tightrope to walk successfully. However, this does not excuse your unwillingness or reticence to have the conversation in the 1st place. Kids will naturally drift into a position where they begin to blame themselves for your divorce. This is not fair it is not necessary. They will be going through enough difficult times as it is with the breakup of your marriage period do not add pressure or place them in a situation where they will blame themselves for the end of your marriage. 

Otherwise, you should immediately reach out to your spouse and, assuming that he or she will speak with you, begin to work out a plan to share custody with your children. If all it takes is a phone call to discuss reconciliation or marriage counseling then that would be even better period however, if we are assuming that your marriage is not salvageable then you should do your best to ensure that a set schedule gets in place as soon as possible as far as custody sharing between you and your spouse. Remember that kids thrive on stability and consistency in parenting and you and your spouse are still responsible for providing your children with this despite your chosen path to go down the road towards divorce. 

Questions about the material contained in this blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about Texas family law and the services that our attorneys and staff offered to clients. 

We appreciate your interest in our law practice and in our blog. We will be sharing more unique content tomorrow regarding Texas family law and we hope that you will join us then To continue this conversation. Get out of that insurance for over 20 years they understand and live this strategy and will take the time to help the most  

Categories

Let's Get Started Together

Fill out the form below to receive your E-book
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.