If your spouse has filed for divorce – whether you were expecting it or not – you have a lot of things to consider: your home, the division of assets, child custody and visitation, retirement plans, and more. With so many details and emotions weighing on you, you may be wondering what to do first.
To alleviate as much stress as possible and make an action plan, we recommend that you prioritize these four things:
- Read the Divorce Papers
- Inventory & Make Note of Assets
- Consult with A Divorce Lawyer
- Don’t Rush the Divorce
Read the Divorce Papers
While it may be tempting to set the divorce papers on the kitchen table until you are ready to read them, the reality is that the clock is ticking. As the defendant, you will have 30 days to respond with a counterclaim. Otherwise, the court will assume you agree with the terms your spouse has proposed in the divorce.
Reading your divorce papers will help you assess the situation and determine whether you agree with your spouse’s terms or have requests of your own before you part ways.
Inventory & Make Note of Assets
One of the worst positions to be in is if your spouse has been handling all of your finances, policies, or accounts only to leave you in the dark. Maybe you want to believe your spouse would not change passwords, withdraw money that you both have a right to, or go on a spending spree with your credit card, but trust us: It is better to err on the side of caution.
Begin gathering important information for your joint bank account statements, credit card balances, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and anything else of note. Think about other things that are valuable to you, as well. If your spouse has any of your family’s heirlooms in their possession, or you suspect they are going to move any of your joint assets, make note of these things and discuss them with a divorce attorney.
Consult with A Divorce Lawyer
The best decision you can make for your personal interests is to hire a divorce lawyer to navigate the legal matters and negotiate with your spouse. As a trained mediator and counselor who is aware of your rights, a divorce lawyer can evaluate the terms, work to achieve positive outcomes for you, and complete the necessary paperwork outlining your counterclaim.
In fact, trying to come to an agreement on your own can actually cost you dearly.
Even if you believe you agree with your spouse’s terms, there are lots of things you might not have not considered in your divorce settlement: hidden assets, joint debt, alimony, and taxes, to name a few. Your lawyer will bring these – and others – to light.
Hiring a divorce lawyer also can help buffer the emotional nature of the situation. Rather than having to discuss terms with your spouse’s lawyer, enlisting your own representative will save you the time, stress, and any potentially burned bridges with your former partner.
Don’t Rush the Divorce
We previously mentioned the 30-day response time, but that is one of the few time-sensitive elements you will be up against in your divorce settlement. Once you’ve secured a lawyer to draft your response before the deadline, it is important to note that you should not rush the divorce process.
Facing divorce is one of the more difficult challenges someone can face in life, so it makes sense if you want it to be over as quickly as possible. However, rushing into a divorce settlement that you realize too late is less than ideal – or even harmful to you emotionally, financially, or both – those outcomes can impact you for the rest of your life.
Especially when it comes to custody and visitation with your children, you want to make sure everything is in order. For example, less than half of parents who have child support agreements actually receive the full amount they are entitled to; more than 30% of child support payments are completely evaded, and less than 50% of payments that are given are paid in full.
Choose our Nashville Divorce Attorneys to support you and ensure the best possible outcome for you.