You’ve Been Served Divorce Papers: Now What?


After you’ve been served divorce papers, your first instinct may be to panic. However, it’s important to remain calm and take the necessary steps to ensure your needs are met during this difficult time. In this article, we will explore what it means to be served with divorce papers, how to respond to them, and the important steps to take as you move forward in the divorce process.

Understanding Being Served with Divorce Papers

What Does It Mean to Be Served?

Being served divorce papers is a scary and confusing experience. Your spouse may ask a friend, family member, sheriff, or a process server to deliver the papers to you. Alternatively, the papers may be sent via certified mail or publication in some cases. It’s crucial to understand the significance of being served and the limited time you have to respond.

Swift Action is Essential

If you have been served with divorce papers, it’s important to take swift action. Typically, you have less than a month to respond, and failing to do so may have serious consequences for your divorce case. Seeking legal assistance or advice from a divorce advisor can help you navigate the legal aspects and protect your rights.

How to Respond When Served

Remain Calm and Consider Options

When served with divorce papers, your first instinct may be to panic and feel overwhelmed. However, as the respondent, it is important to remain calm and consider all options before responding. Ignoring the papers may lead to undesirable outcomes, so it’s best to evaluate your choices carefully.

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Filing an Official Response

Filing an official response with the court allows you to present your case and explain why you believe the divorce should not proceed or should be handled differently. While there are filing fees associated with this option, you can apply for a fee waiver if you cannot afford them.

Next Steps After Being Served

Gather Information

After being served with divorce papers, your next step should be to gather as much information as possible about your situation. This includes financial statements, important documents, and any relevant legal paperwork. Being well-prepared will help you make informed decisions throughout the divorce process.

Property Division in Community Property States and Equitable Distribution States

The process of property division varies depending on the state you live in. In community property states, marital assets are generally divided equally between spouses. In equitable distribution states, various factors are considered to determine a fair and equitable division of assets and debts.

Understanding Fault and No-Fault Divorce

It’s essential to know whether your divorce is classified as a fault or no-fault divorce. Fault divorce is granted when one partner has committed wrongdoing, while no-fault divorce simply states that the marriage is irretrievably broken or has irreconcilable differences. Understanding this distinction can have implications for issues like spousal support and child custody.

Mediation Requirements

In some states, divorcing couples are required to participate in mediation before going to court. Mediation aims to resolve issues related to property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support with the help of a mediator. Even if all issues cannot be resolved through mediation, the effort can still expedite the court process.

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Getting Help with Your Divorce

Seeking Legal Assistance

While some couples can complete their divorce amicably, others may require legal guidance. If you need help navigating the divorce process, it’s perfectly acceptable to seek help from an experienced family law attorney. There are also cost-effective alternatives to traditional lawyers, such as flat-fee virtual meetings and online divorce plans, which provide the necessary forms, checklists, and guidance.


Going through a divorce is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s essential to approach it with a clear mindset and the right support. Remember to take care of yourself during this emotionally taxing time and seek professional help if needed. By understanding the divorce process and taking the necessary steps, you can move forward with confidence and lay the foundation for a brighter future.

FAQs After The Conclusion

  1. Is it necessary to respond to divorce papers?
    • Yes, it is crucial to respond to divorce papers within the specified time frame to protect your rights and interests in the divorce proceedings.
  2. Can I handle my divorce without a lawyer?
    • While it is possible to handle your divorce without a lawyer, seeking legal assistance can ensure you make informed decisions and navigate complex legal issues effectively.
  3. What happens if I don’t agree with the terms in the divorce papers?
    • If you don’t agree with the terms presented in the divorce papers, you can file an official response and present your case in court.
  4. How long does the divorce process typically take?
    • The duration of the divorce process varies depending on the complexity of the case and the state’s legal procedures. On average, it can take several months to a year or more to finalize a divorce.
  5. What resources are available to help with divorce proceedings?
    • There are various resources available, including family law attorneys, mediators, online divorce plans, and support groups, to help individuals navigate the divorce process successfully.
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