5 Steps to Take After Getting Served Divorce Papers

Getting served with divorce papers is sometimes a welcomed event that you have been planning for, other times a devastating surprise. No matter your situation, it is important that you take the right steps after getting served in order to ensure your rights are protected and the divorce process will go as smoothly as possible.

Contact an Attorney

If you have not already, the first thing you want to do is talk to an attorney. Even if you believe that your divorce is going to go smoothly without any major conflict, an attorney can help you to avoid any delays or other complications. They can also help to ensure everything in your divorce happens in a timely manner so that it does not drag out any longer than necessary.

Read the Papers

This step can happen at basically the same time as contacting an attorney. The papers you were served with are telling you that your spouse has filed for divorce and they may be advising you of a hearing date. Read through the papers to make sure there is nothing wrong (names spelled wrong, etc) or to see if there is a court hearing scheduled. If you received them in the mail with a document entitled “Waiver of Service,” the attorney you consult will probably tell you it is fine to sign the Waiver. It usually just says you know the divorce has been started. Watch out for language, though, that says the case may proceed without notice to you. You do not want to agree to that. If you already have an attorney or an appointment with an attorney, be sure to bring those to the attorney.

Seek Mediation

The vast majority of divorces occur without ever having to go to trial. Instead, the details of the divorce are agreed upon through a mediation process that involves both parties. Whether you think your divorce will be high conflict or not, attempting mediation is almost always a good idea. This will let you work through many important decisions without court involvement, which will save you time and money. Your attorney will be able to help you throughout the mediation process.

Create a Parenting Plan

If you have children with your spouse, you will want to work together (to the extent possible) to create a parenting plan that puts the best interests of your children first. This plan will establish things like who will have the children on which days (including holidays), who makes important decisions, and much more. Texas has a standard plan for the parenting time schedule, called the Standard Possession Order, and a standard plan for decision making, but there may be times when deviating from that plan is necessary or desired.

Go to Court

The last step in the process is to go to court. If you were able to work out all the details of the divorce such as how to split assets, how the children will be cared for, support, and everything else then the courts will simply review the settlement agreement and sign off on it (you may not even need to show up to court). If you and your spouse are entirely unable to agree on things, then you will need to go to trial to have the courts make decisions for you and issue an order.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have been served with divorce papers, or you know that you will be soon, we are here to help. Contact Fraser, Wilson & Bryan to schedule a free consultation. We will talk with you about your specific situation and help you to successfully navigate the entire divorce process.