You’ve Been Served! 10 Things To Do First

Divorce Law

Your spouse has served you with divorce papers for a New Jersey divorce.  Perhaps you were expecting it, or maybe it has blindsided you. What are the first 5 things to do?

  1. Call a lawyer. You need to know the process, procedures and what you are entitled to.  We can often get you a consult within one business day or even same day.
  2. Check and lock down your credit. Use a free credit report service and make sure there is nothing unusual on your accounts, then make sure any accounts your spouse has access to are barred from their use.
  3. Put money aside. If you have concerns that your spouse will move resources, check bank accounts and take no more than 50% and move it to an account in your name. Do not dissipate assets, but if you’re concerned about the other party doing so it is fine to keep it separate pending the divorce.
  4. Check in with your children. Do not involve them in the litigation, but if your spouse has informed them now is a good time to just make sure they feel safe and loved. It is better if you and your spouse can find a way to discuss presenting this information to the children in the right way, at the right time, preferably together if possible so that the children can feel the most supported.
  5. Stay off social media and no angry texts. Now is not the time to unload your feelings in a public forum, nor is it the time to text your spouse in rage.  Before you type anything throughout this divorce imagine how you’ll feel when it’s read back to you in court, because it probably will be.
  6. Start gathering financial data. You’re going to need to find your tax returns, know what your monthly budget is, know what your assets and debts are…if you can assemble them before your appointment with the lawyer, even better.
  7. If possible, talk to your spouse.  If there is too much anger and it is unsafe emotionally or physically, then skip this step. But if you and your spouse are able to sit down and have a conversation about what you think is a fair way to handle children, money and separation, it will cost you both less and be far less stressful.
  8. Get Support.  For some this will just mean a crew of friends you can go out and have a drink and talk with. For some this may mean calling a qualified therapist. Whatever your coping strategies, as long as they are healthy for you, start lining them up.
  9. Don’t Google. I mean, you can Google, but don’t rely on Google or even friends to tell you what YOU are entitled to in a divorce. Ask a lawyer.  The answers can vary greatly with subtle differences in cases.
  10. Trust Yourself. You’ll get through this, and in the end if you want a better life than you have right now, believe in yourself and you’ll have it.

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