Whether you were expecting them or not, being served with divorce papers may cause a flood of emotions—sadness, hurt, anger, anxiety, and maybe even relief. You were either served a Summons and Complaint or a Summons with Notice. There also should have been something called Automatic Orders in the packet. As you flip through the pages, you’re very likely overwhelmed and may be confused about all the legal language. You may also start to feel panic about child custody, your home, and your finances. Now what?
Consult an Attorney
First, it is not a good idea to call your soon to be former spouse in a cloud of fury as soon as you receive the papers. The first thing you should do is consult with an attorney—you have important concerns: your children, your property, and your finances. All can be affected during the course of the divorce proceedings. The only way to ensure the protection of your legal rights is to have a lawyer by your side. While some believe that they may be able to handle a divorce on their own, pro se, the legal system can be very difficult to navigate for someone who is unfamiliar with it, and costly mistakes can be avoided by retaining an attorney at the beginning of the divorce process. There are many rules involved with court filings, service of papers, and time limits when it comes to divorce proceedings-- a knowledgeable attorney can explain the process to you, and also help take the burden off your shoulders as you go through this stressful time.
Think About Your Objectives
Your attorney should discuss with you what your objectives are in your case and speak with you about developing a strategy and plan to achieve them. A lot will also depend on whether you and your soon-to-be former spouse can come to an agreement about important topics such as child custody and property distribution. Is it your objective to have full custody? Would you like to remain in the marital home with the children, or would it be better to sell it? Do you own a business you’re trying to protect?
You should also come up with a list of all the property you and your spouse own. An attorney will discuss with you what is marital property that is subject to equitable distribution and what is separate property that the owner gets to keep.
Organize Your Documents
Next, you will want to get organized. Your attorney will be relying on the information you provide so it’s important that you can give them the necessary financial records for your case. All New York cases require the filing of a Statement of Net Worth at the beginning of the litigation, so it’s best to save time and have the information readily available. Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may also ask for other documents that may be relevant to property ownership, child custody, or other matters. Any pre-nups or post-nups from this marriage, or any previous marriages should also be provided to the attorney at the beginning of the case.
If you have been served with divorce papers, or have been considering divorce, The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins understands that every case is unique and takes pride in handling each case with compassion and understanding, and provides clients with the personalized attention they deserve as they go through one of the most stressful times in their lives. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins offers affordable counsel and is available to represent clients for their divorce and family law matters throughout New York City-- Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island-- Nassau and Suffolk counties, and Westchester.
Consultations are by appointment only and can be scheduled in Manhattan or Melville, Long Island for the convenience of clients. Call (646) 397-6844 today to schedule.
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