You’ve been served with a Utah Divorce Complaint.
Whether it’s through the mail or someone handing you the papers, it’s a sinking feeling.
You may be in shock, or scared, or nervous (or all three). “What do I do now?” is a normal and natural question people ask themselves when this happens.
The answer is there are lots and lots of things you could do. I’ve distilled the 8 most important things you should do after getting a Complaint.
1. Read the Divorce Complaint.
You’d be amazed at how many people come to my office without having read the papers they were served with. They’re in a state of denial, and that’s understandable. Divorce is tough, and I know you probably don’t want to read the Complaint, but it’s imperative that you do. You need to know exactly what your spouse is asking for so you know what to do and how to respond.
2. Look at the Summons and mark the response date on a calendar.
The Summons is a document that lets you know you’re being sued for divorce. It also includes the date by which you need to respond, otherwise you default. (Hint: don’t default.) If you’re served in Utah, you have 21 days. If you’re served outside Utah, you have 30 days. Count out those days and mark the response date on your phone’s calendar. Set alerts to make sure you don’t miss the date.
3. Find an attorney.
Find an attorney you trust to help you with your divorce. (Click here to read criteria for choosing a divorce attorney.) Divorce is a difficult and trying time, and going through it with a professional by your side will help you and your family succeed during and after divorce.
4. Divide your bank accounts.
There’s a tendency in divorce for one person to clear out the bank accounts. Don’t let this happen to you. Go to your bank and take out 50% of whatever’s in your bank accounts, then put those amounts in a separate account your spouse can’t access.
5. Change your passwords — all of them.
People have another tendency in divorce: to spy on their spouse. This includes lots of snooping in cellphones and email accounts. Change all your passwords. If you have a lot of passwords to change and keep track of, download LastPass and use it to help you.
6. Talk with your kids.
You (preferably you and your spouse together) will need to have a talk to your kids about divorce and what it will mean for your family. This will be one of the most difficult and important conversations you’ll ever have with your kids. Give it a lot of thought and preparation. Make it as positive and conciliatory as possible. 20 years from now, you’ll be glad you did.
7. Stop posting on social media.
Cold turkey this thing. Posting frustrations and hurt on Facebook and Twitter (or whatever flavor of social media you prefer) will do nothing to make you feel better in the long run, and it may well be used against you in court. I have won divorce cases based largely on stupid social media postings by the other side. So, no social media until after the divorce papers are signed.
8. See the light at the end of the tunnel.
Things will get better, I promise. If you forgive and move forward in positivity as quickly as possible, the dark days you might feel right now will be left behind. You will be successful both during and after your divorce.