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3 steps to take after being served with divorce papers

If you receive divorce papers, you may have trouble thinking clearly for a few hours or even days. While you have 20 days to respond to the divorce filing, you do not want to wait until the last minute to figure everything out. It may just sound too overwhelming to you right now, as the thought of getting a divorce can be extremely disheartening.

What can you do when you get the terrible news that your spouse officially wants out of your marriage? Here are the first steps you should take. 

1. Take a deep breath and read the papers

First, make sure you do not panic or lash out. Sit down, breathe and resist the urge to call your spouse and yell. With the help of an attorney, make sure you understand everything in the divorce papers. These papers lay out why your spouse wants to leave and the claims regarding property division, child custody and any support payments. It is crucial that you understand what your spouse is claiming and asking of you. Remember to double-check the deadline by which you must respond to the papers.

2. Gather evidence

In order to properly respond to the claims your spouse makes, you will need to provide evidence to support your own claims. Collect any relevant details that may help you with issues regarding property, custody and support. This may include documentation of assets, proof of financially supporting your children or proof of income.

3. File your response

Do not wait until the 20th day to submit your answer. Once you are ready, you should file your response with the court clerk, either by mail or dropping it off in person. If you end up missing the deadline, all hope is not lost. In this situation, you will want to contact the court as soon as possible to determine if your spouse is going to attend a hearing. You may be able to attend or request a filing extension.

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