You were going about your busy day and you were served divorce papers. If you didn’t know this was coming, you may be in a bit of shock and filled with a lot of sadness. If you were ready for it, simmer down and start reading. Don’t throw those papers in a corner and hope they will go away. Generally speaking, they won’t…and if you wait too long, you may have to unwind a default, which is a sticky and tangled mess. The next question you want to ask yourself is whether mediation is an option. You see, even at this late date, a full divorce mediation is still available. In fact, if you decide to mediate your divorce, you can do so at any time in this process.
This is the perfect time for divorce mediation. If you get to a firm like Pacific Coast Mediation, they will fill all necessary responses and sit down with both of you to formulate a Marital Settlement Agreement. Otherwise, you will be left on your own. What might that look like, you ask? Well you will need to file a series of papers in a specific order, the first is a response that will need to be filed in 30 days. The second set of papers to be filed are the financial disclosures. Finally, when you are served divorce papers, you will need to file a judgement packet, complete with self addressed stamped envelopes.
This is still a place where mediation works. In fact, that is what mediation is all about, resolving disagreements and creating a future that you both build. However, if you aren’t inclined to come to the table, you have to be prepared for the worst. First, you will need to decide whether you will hire an attorney or not. The next step to occur is that one or both of you will request temporary orders for support and/or custody. Then the fun begins. You should expect discovery (this is where you are required to produce all appropriate documents requested, including bank statements, tax returns, etc.). You should expect hearings and eventually a trial to decide the fate of your children and your property. However, most contested divorces end in a Marital Settlement Agreement, anyhow.
If it were me and I were served divorce papers. I would skip the attorney. I would skip the discovery and hearings and trial and cut to the chase. Work out your mediated Marital Settlement Agreement and skip the hassle and cost!