Being served with divorce papers is never easy, and for many Michigan residents, it can come as a great shock. Whether you knew that your spouse was seriously considering divorce (and perhaps was even planning to file a divorce petition), or being served with divorce papers seemed to occur without any warning, it is important to think clearly about the steps you need to take next. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins, we routinely represent Michigan residents who are in the initial stages of a divorce case. The following are important things you should do if you are served with divorce papers.
Begin Working With a Divorce Lawyer as Soon as Possible
There are many time-sensitive issues in a divorce case, from filing an answer to a complaint about divorce (which we will discuss below) to gathering evidence pertaining to marital assets before your spouse has a chance to prevent you from accessing this kind of material. The sooner you begin working with a Michigan divorce attorney, the quicker you can be sure that you will not miss any deadlines and will not be at risk of making an error that could affect your case. Even making a verbal or written statement to your spouse without consulting a lawyer could end up hurting your case. You will want to have experienced counsel on your side from the start.
Recognize the Time Limits for Filing an Answer to the Divorce Complaint
Divorces in Michigan are governed by Michigan divorce law. As you now likely know, the divorce process begins when one of the spouses files a complaint about divorce. It is important to know that you-as the spouse who was served divorce papers-are now the defendant in the divorce proceeding. Under Michigan law, you can file what is known as an “answer” to the complaint about divorce, but you only have a limited time to do so. In general, you will likely have anywhere from 21 to 28 days after being served with divorce papers to file an answer, depending upon the way in which you were served.
If you immediately get in touch with a divorce attorney after you receive divorce papers, your lawyer will be able to ensure that you meet any necessary filing deadlines.
Obtain All Financial Documents Connected to Separate and Marital Assets
Once you know your spouse has filed for divorce, it may become very difficult to obtain the financial documentation you need to show that particular assets either are your property alone (i.e., separate property that should not be divided in your divorce) or are the marital property (which should all be divided equitably between the spouses). Even though your spouse may have a head start, you should immediately begin making copies of financial materials, including tax returns, bank statements, purchase orders, receipts, and any other materials that will be relevant to your case.
Do Your Best to Remain Calm
If you act rashly or erratically, your spouse ultimately could try to use your behavior against you in a child custody proceeding or in the process of property division. Keep information about your personal life off social media, and avoid sending emotional emails or texts to your spouse.
Get in Touch with a Michigan Divorce Lawyer
Were you recently served with divorce papers? A Michigan divorce lawyer at our firm can discuss the divorce process with you and can begin working with you on your case. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins to learn more about the family law services we provide to Michigan residents.