Getting divorced can be stressful, especially if you first learn that your spouse wants a divorce when you’re served with divorce papers. However, the last thing you want to do is ignore the documents. Here are four steps you should take to protect your legal rights.
#1: Accept Service of the Lawsuit
The first thing you need to do is accept the paperwork. Your spouse will not be the one handing it to you. You will be formally served by a process server or court officer.
You will not be able to stop the divorce process by refusing service. In addition, you could lose valuable time to file a response to the complaint and may have a default judgement entered against you if you do nothing.
#2: Read the Papers
Once you receive the divorce papers, you should read them. The documents are a Summons and Complaint. The Summons states you have 21 days to file an answer to your spouse’s divorce action. The Complaint is the pleading that starts the divorce process and states the grounds for divorce that your spouse is relying on.
#3: File an Answer
In Virginia, you have 21 days from the date you were served with the divorce papers to file an Answer to the Complaint. You will need to respond to all of the allegations in the Complaint when filing your response. It is crucial that you file your answer with the court within this 21-day deadline. Otherwise, a default judgment of divorce could be entered against you.
#4: Retain an Attorney
As soon as you receive the Summons and Complaint, you should retain an experienced divorce attorney. Your lawyer can file your answer for you, help you navigate the divorce process, and protect your legal interests. Even if you and your spouse agree on getting divorced, you need your own attorney who is looking out for your rights and will ensure that your divorce settlement is fair to you.
Were you served with divorce papers in Midlothian? Are you considering filing for divorce? Start a live chat today to schedule a free consultation to learn about how the process works and how I can help you.