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What happens after divorce papers are served?

October 3, 2017

Once you’ve taken the big step of filing for divorce or you’ve received divorce papers from the other side, you might wonder what happens next. Filing divorce papers and serving them is only the first step. It doesn’t mean that you’re divorced. There are a lot of things that happen between now and when your divorce becomes final.

If you’ve served the divorce papers, the other side has a chance to respond to them. Their response allows them to state their position and make demands. They might agree with you on parts of the divorce, or they might disagree. If they don’t file a reply, they may lose the chance to participate in the divorce proceedings.

Once you serve divorce papers, the court should issue what’s called an automatic stay. This is a court order that prevents either side from hiding or spending marital assets in order to avoid having to give the other side their share. It’s also the time for you to work with your attorney on building your case.

You may need to prepare and issue subpoenas. You may want to notice depositions. There are ways that you can order the other side to produce copies of records. If you have a family business, you may need to have it valued and do an accounting. All of these things take place in the time after divorce papers are served. In most cases, you can file a request for judicial intervention 30 days after you file a complaint. This request allows the court to establish a formal timeline for conducting discovery.

After you serve divorce papers, one of the parties to the divorce might ask the court to establish temporary orders. These are orders that can be in place while you wait for the divorce to become final. A temporary order might make an arrangement for child custody and parenting time. It might provide for temporary alimony in the event that there’s a disparity in incomes and one of the spouses needs help financially.

Finally, after you serve divorce papers, you can work on trying to resolve the case. This usually doesn’t happen immediately after you serve divorce papers. Instead, the parties work to build the case in order to have a complete and accurate picture of the assets and debts in the case. Once the parties conduct discovery, they’re able to negotiate a resolution. However, you’re free to discuss the case and pursue a resolution at any time.

In the time after you serve or receive divorce papers, you can begin to prepare your case. You can compile copies of your financial records, deeds to property, titles to vehicles and boats and other evidence. You can make a list of all of the assets and debts that you have and gather evidence to document the value of each item.

For child custody issues, you can begin working with your attorney on ways to prove your case. That might mean speaking with a child’s teachers or arranging for a psychologist to evaluate the children. You may need to gather evidence of the other parent’s violence or substance abuse problems. The time after you serve divorce papers is the time to reply to the complaint, build your case and begin thinking about the results you’d like to achieve in the case.

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