I Was Just Served Divorce Papers. What do I do?

Just been served divorce papers from your spouse? There is no such thing as an easy and smooth sailing marriage. Problems occur, and whether it is because of abuse, finances, lack of communication, or infidelity, divorce is inevitable. While dealing with a breakdown of a marriage is not easy, what is even more challenging is being served with divorce papers, without warning. Most people are not able to think clearly in the hours, or even days after they receive divorce papers. But do not panic, here is what you need to know and do next:

Just Because You Were Served Does Not Mean You Are in the Wrong

Being served with divorce papers can be very upsetting, especially if you are not prepared. Financially and emotionally, a divorce is difficult, but above and beyond the emotional element, you need to determine how you are going to protect your legal rights. Firstly, you must understand that your spouse is not in a better position because you are the one who was served. In South Africa, we have a “no-fault system of divorce”, meaning that your spouse does not need to specify why they want a divorce. The reason for the divorce will be listed as an irretrievable breakdown of a marriage.

All Expenditures Must Cease, and You Will Need to Respond

Once you are served with divorce papers, you will not be allowed to move money from bank accounts, make any substantial purchases, or change any policies or financing agreements, such as vehicle, home, medical aid, or life policies. Once the papers reach your hands, you will be given a period of up to 30 days to respond. If you do not respond within the fixed time, your spouse can potentially receive anything they have requested due to your default. Make sure to read the divorce papers thoroughly and acknowledge the deadline. And this is where your search for a divorce attorney will begin.

Hire a Divorce Attorney

Friends and family are great for emotional support, but there are a number of mistakes you can make, so now would be the time to hire an experienced divorce attorney. When you are confronted with a divorce, you want a compassionate divorce attorney who can give you an honest evaluation of the status quo. Taking your unique aspects into consideration, such as children, child support, shared assets, insurance policies, medical aid, and combined funds and shared bank accounts, a divorce attorney will give you clear insight into what your situation is, and what would be the best route. Focussing on the key issues of your divorce, your divorce attorney will also provide ways to help you reduce your legal fees through mediation and negotiation, and if that is unsuccessful, they will have the “legal muscle” to settle through court.

If you are looking for an experienced divorce attorney, then Riëtte Oosthuizen Attorneys is the law firm to help you. Specialising in litigation, mediation, children’s court applications, and international divorce matters, we have the experience and the understanding required to deal with each type of divorce, from straightforward to complex, especially where children are involved, and assets need to be divided.

At Riëtte Oosthuizen Attorneys, we take great pride in our ability to cut through all the legal jargon, so that you can make the best decisions for yourself, your children, and your business. If you have just been served with divorce papers, then contact us right away.