The beginning of a separation is often the hardest, and being served with divorce papers doesn’t make it any easier. It is important to start on the right foot as every step counts towards ensuring you are best represented and your interests are protected. Here at Lynn and Brown Lawyers we specialise in family law matters. Whether it’s dividing property, being represented during negotiations or deciding where the children will live; our team can be of assistance. With that in mind, let us serve you up our top tips for what to do when you receive divorce papers.
- Take a step back
Being served divorce papers is an emotional and often confronting event. When for better or for worse is thrown out the window, it is important that you keep your calm and not jump to conclusions. It is best to take a personal day, talk to family or friends and evaluate your position. This is not the time to ring your ex and have a go at them. This may seem like common sense… but you would be surprised how few people follow it!
- Look at the due dates
When divorce papers are served, there is a date set to respond. This is not a suggestion, it is a deadline. Mark it in your calendar and be prepared to deal with the matter before this time.
- Decide if you need legal representation
Once you have read through the papers carefully you need to consider your options. If you decide to obtain legal advice it is best to do so in the initial stages so that an experienced practitioner can guide you through each step of the process. Early self-representation can often mean larger legal bills and a slower settlement as your lawyer spends more time learning about your matter and fixing any mistakes you have unwittingly made.
- Sort out your finances
While a divorce may divide your heart, it may also divide your finances. This is the time to consider closing joint accounts and starting fresh secure personal accounts. Whether you choose to be self-represented or engage a lawyer, it is important to cut back on expenses and create a nest egg for future uncertainty. When sorting out your financial position it is important to be precise, not unreasonable. Unreasonableness includes leaving your partner with the mortgage, freezing their accounts or not providing for children of the relationship.
- Consider your partners point of view
When looking to future actions it is important to consider what you would like as an outcome and the relationships you wish to keep. If there are children involved it is important to consider their needs and not embroil them in the argument with your partner. While your partner may be participating in aggressive, demeaning or hostile behaviours, it is important that you choose not to stoop to this level. It is more important to look to the future and means of resolving the separation outside of court. To settle outside of court you must consider what your partner will be looking to achieve and what financial provisions they will require. A negotiation conference will reduce the financial pressures and stress of court appearance and hopefully keep you and your partner on amicable terms into the future.
About the author:
Haley Graydon is a law clerk at Lynn & Brown. Haley is currently in her final year of study at UWA. The areas of law that Haley has a keen interest in is family law and estates.