Five things NOT to do when you receive divorce papers

You have just been served with divorce papers. Perhaps you expected them, perhaps you did not. They may make you angry, they may make you sad.

Whatever, it is likely to be an extremely stressful moment, and that stress could colour how you respond. But it is essential that, no matter how tempting, you do not respond in the wrong way.

Here are five typical things that you should NOT do if you receive divorce papers:

1. Lose your temper with your spouse – As we said, receiving the divorce papers may make you angry. This could be because you don’t believe that the breakdown of the marriage was your fault, because you are unhappy about allegations against you contained in the divorce petition, or simply because you don’t want a divorce. You may lose your temper and want to confront your spouse. Don’t. It will not achieve anything, and is only likely to make things worse. Remember that under our present divorce system one party usually has to ‘blame’ the other for the breakdown of the marriage – your spouse may have had no other option.

2. Tear up the papers – Yes, it does happen. But it is not going to stop the divorce. Without going into the details, your spouse will still be able to proceed with the divorce, and your actions may just have increased the costs of the divorce, which you may have to pay.

3. Ignore the papers – This also does happen, all too often. But it is not going to make the divorce go away. Again, your spouse will still be able to proceed with the divorce.

4. Stop paying for things – You may still be paying for things that your spouse benefits from, for example the mortgage on the matrimonial home, or the repayments on the car that they are using. Receiving the divorce papers may tempt you to stop paying these things. But doing so may cause you further trouble. Don’t have a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction – take advice first, and as quickly as you can.

5. Defend or cross petition without thought – This is often the first thought of anyone who doesn’t want a divorce, or who is aggrieved at being blamed for the breakdown of the marriage. Yes, in some (rare) circumstances it may be the best thing to do, but it may also be a huge mistake, which will only cause the divorce to drag out and be much more expensive.

Of course, what you SHOULD do if you receive divorce papers is take expert legal advice. Family Law Cafe can organise your response and sort out everything that needs to be done. For further information about what we can do for you call us on 020 3904 0506, or click the ‘Sign up’ button at the top of the page, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash