If you have been served with divorce papers, or your husband has told you that he is has filed for divorce (or will file soon), what do you do? Below are six steps to take back some control of the situation.
- Don’t panic. Stay calm.
You may experience a sense of urgency, but it is probably not a true emergency. Domestic violence, family violence, and physical abuse are emergencies. In those situations, call 911. A sense of urgency can feel like an emergency, but it is not. Don’t let fear control your response. You have rights and laws to protect you.
- Speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Do not keep your head buried in the sand. This situation is not going away. The longer you wait to speak with an attorney, the less options you will have.
- Don’t agree to any terms he offers right now.
The divorce process takes time, and you have rights. Your husband may threaten to make things worse if you don’t accept his offer. Don’t let him bully you. Let him know you hear what he is saying and you will get back to him. Then talk to an attorney right away. Do not rush to an agreement without knowing all of your options.
- Protect your money.
Consider opening a new bank account and credit card, changing the beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement accounts, and getting a P.O. box. But consult with an attorney before you do, to make sure you aren’t violating any rules by doing so and to understand what amounts to set aside are appropriate.
- Reassure your kids that they are loved and safe.
Tell your children that it is not their fault, that they are loved, that they are safe, and that the grown-ups will figure it out. If your husband tells the kids about the divorce without you, don’t panic. It’s a jerk move, but it happens. Avoid pulling the kids into your fight or blaming the other person. It may be hard to do, but stick to the high road. It pays off in court and in your kids’ lives.
- Do not sign anything without an attorney looking at it.
Your husband may give you a Waiver of Citation or try to have you sign a binding settlement agreement or court order. Do not sign it without an attorney discussing it with you. You may think you are making things easier by being agreeable, but you could really be giving up valuable rights and making things more complex and expensive.
Our divorce team has some of the best divorce lawyers in Dallas. We have experience helping women plan and prepare for divorce. If you’d like to set up a consultation to discuss your options, click here.