What is the initial consultation with your attorney like when you are served with divorce papers?
Ok. So you’ve been served with divorce papers. You may very well have been taken by surprise. But then again, maybe not. What is the first thing you should do? Count to five. Slowly. Sit down and read the complaint from cover to cover. If you feel you just can’t do it, put the complaint down and get yourself a cocktail. When you feel better, take the complaint and read it. It is important to figure out what your spouse is asking for before you do anything else. (Image Credit:
Once you have ascertained what the complaint has in it, contact a divorce lawyer or three in your area and interview them on the phone. Get a sense of what they think, ask them a few questions to get a sense of their background, and make an appointment to go in and discuss your case if you think it is worth it to meet with the lawyer in person.
Between the time you meet the lawyer and the time you actually called the lawyer, take the time to gather your papers together that may be relevant to your divorce such as any documents pertaining to the finances of the family – including bank statements, pay checks/stubs and investment accounts.
Speak with your spouse if you are not mortal enemies at this point. You would be surprised that if you are able to discuss the matter between you, your legal fees will be reduced because you would have resolved issues between you. You may be able to decide on a settlement deal before the lawyers even get into it. You may be able, simply, to stem any animosity from forming by relating to your spouse that you want to resolve your issues in a way that is not protracted and litigious. Hey, maybe you don’t even want a divorce and you can discuss maybe marriage counseling or something. Having a conversation with your spouse when you get divorce papers is not a bad idea. Unless you are in a situation where it just doesn’t make sense. Use your judgment here.
If either you or your spouse is alleging adultery, you may want to start to think about any incriminating evidence that may be floating out there. Evidence is only evidence if it can be found. Have you left a footprint of your indiscretions to be found by your spouse? If there is anything you can do about it, do it. But anything on the computer can be subpoenaed and it’s never really erased. So keep that in mind. If you were the one cheated on, you may want to start to research forensics experts who can probe deleted files on computers and such matters in order to start putting your case together.
The holidays are typically a very risky time for shaky marriages. For some reason a lot of marriages that are going to fall apart anyway, totally crack up over the holidays. You and your spouse may want to call a truce till January for the kids sakes. Hopefully he or she is sensitive enough to wait till January to serve you. But if not, discuss how waiting till the New Year to delve into the divorce discussion might be in the kids’ best interest – assuming you have kids.
If your spouse want to push ahead anyway, you may want to think about getting the court to issue orders in the interim or pendente lite to protect assets and maybe even to allow you to live in the house exclusively while the divorce is pending, or maybe even so that you will have custody of the children while the divorce is pending. These are issues you must discuss with your attorney from the initial consultation.
By New York Divorce Attorney