There is no such thing as a perfect time to be served with divorce papers. Even if you knew they were coming, being served with divorce papers can throw you off guard. Whether you want to end your marriage or not, there are certain steps that you must take now that you have been served. These steps will help you gain some clarity throughout the divorce process.
Once your spouse serves you with divorce papers in Knoxville, you have 30 days to respond. After that, the divorce goes into default proceedings. Once the divorce goes into default, you lose your legal rights. If you want to give yourself a fighting chance in your divorce case, here are some of the following steps that will help.
Make a counterclaim after your response
After counseling with your attorney, you should consider filing a counterclaim to your divorce papers. Once you file your Answer, your attorney can help you file a counterclaim that can better express your expectations of the divorce. When you are served with divorce papers, the papers will outline things like property division, alimony, or child custody once the divorce is finalized. With a counterclaim, you have the opportunity to express your terms and expectations for how the divorce will proceed.
What if I don’t want to get divorced?
Here’s the thing: if your spouse serves you with papers, there really isn’t much you can do. If you’re hoping to reconcile, we really do wish you the best of luck: divorce AND marriage are both hard, and if you can give it a go, we’re rooting for you.
But the truth of the matter is that your spouse can still file the papers and go to court, even if you don’t show up. And if you don’t respond or show up, then the judge is probably going to grant that divorce by default judgment. In some cases, you can still end up divorced even if you aren’t served with papers because there are ways to handle just such an instance.
Start building your case with your Knoxville attorney
Once your counterclaim and response have been issued, it is time to work with your attorney on presenting the best case for yourself. In your divorce proceeding, every asset that you have acquired before and during your marriage will be evaluated. Your divorce attorney will request that you collect all financial records that can prove how you have contributed financially to the marriage.
Depending on your situation, your Knoxville divorce attorney may also advise you to open a separate bank account. Having a separate bank account can show that there is no deception on your part. You are not trying to hide any assets from your spouse or engaging in any deceptive activities that can hurt you in the divorce. If you and your spouse have a joint bank account, creating a separate bank account can help you to start saving once the divorce is finalized.
Exchange and request information from your spouse
Another step that you want to take during your divorce case is requesting documentation from your spouse. Unfortunately, this is the time where many spouses discover all of the secrets that their partner has been hiding from them. You may find out that your spouse has been withholding a certain amount of money from you or opened up secret bank accounts in their name without your knowledge. During your divorce proceeding, your spouse is legally obligated to provide whatever documents you request. An experienced divorce attorney can help you establish what types of documents you’ll need.
Prepare for mediation
Once you and your spouse have exchanged all documentation, the next step is either mediation or a hearing. Many divorce cases are resolved through mediation because many spouses want to end the process as quickly as possible in a less adversarial setting. If you and your partner are not able to come to an agreement through mediation, the next step in the process is a hearing.
During a hearing, the judge will ask questions about the status of the divorce proceeding and figure out what issues need to be decided for the case to move forward. After these issues have been resolved, the judge will issue the final decisions in a final hearing. Whether you want to resolve your divorce case through mediation or take it to trial, your divorce attorney will be there to provide the best representation for you.
If you thought that just receiving divorce papers was hard, imagine trying to navigate the divorce process on your own. Before you begin the divorce process, you want to make sure that an experienced divorce attorney is on your side. This can ensure that your needs are addressed throughout the entire process. An experienced divorce attorney can also bring a sense of relief to the process and work in the best interests of your entire family. A member of our team can assist with the stressful matters of your case and make the process easier.
The Knoxville attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter can help bring peace of mind to one of the most difficult transitions in your life. Our divorce attorneys will help you make the right choices for your family and your future. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office at (865) 637-6258 or fill out our contact form today.
As the Managing Attorney with LaFevor & Slaughter, Jason R. Hines handles new client consultations, strategic planning and implementation and represents clients in all the Firm’s practice areas.
As an attorney practicing law in Tennessee since 2009, Jason has represented clients from all walks of life in a wide range of cases in the State and Federal Courts of Tennessee. His practice areas include divorce, family law and immigration.