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Getting served with a divorce filing can be an ugly surprise or just upsetting, even if you knew it was coming.

That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that every situation is different, and you should seek legal advice specific to your case.  Here are a few top things to avoid doing when served with divorce papers:


  • Do not ignore the papers or try to hide from them. This will not make the situation go away. Failing to respond to a divorce petition can result in a default judgement, which means that the court may grant the other party’s requested relief without considering your side of the case. Going back and seeking to vacate a default judgment with what is known as a CR 60 Motion to Vacate in Washington courts can be costly, difficult, and must be done timely. Respond so you don’t find yourself in that situation!


  • Do not make any rash decisions or take any drastic action. It’s understandable to be emotional when faced with a divorce, but it’s important to try to remain level-headed and avoid making any decisions that you may later regret. Do not post all over social media about the situation. Do not call everyone you know in the heat of the moment and talk about your spouse and the case. Do not take all the money out of your joint bank accounts because you are angry or scared. Just breathe and do not make knee jerk decisions. You could be violating an Automatic Temporary Financial Restraining Order that went in place when the case was filed. You could create evidence that will be used against you on social. More can go wrong than right when you act in the heat of the moment.


  • Do not try to immediately negotiate or communicate directly with your spouse unless the situation is very amicable. Do not beg them to come back with 20 text messages and calls. Do not go to their new apartment and stand outside. You could be acting in good faith but create a scenario that sets you up to be subject to a protection or restraining order. Use the help of a family law attorney to take first steps. It is best to let your attorney handle communication with your spouse’s attorney.


  • Do not destroy or hide any assets. This can be considered fraudulent and can result in legal consequences. The discovery process will allow these assets to be found. You will look bad, destroy your credibility, and it won’t end well. Be transparent with your financials – or risk paying more in the long run. Your attorney will tell you what is needed and when and will get what you need from the other party.


  • Do not forget to take care of yourself. It’s important to prioritize your own well-being during this difficult time. Make sure to seek support from friends, family, and a therapist if you need it. You are not alone. You will be okay. You got this. A divorce is usually a marathon and not a sprint, so gather your resources emotionally and prepare to care for yourself during the race.


If you were served with divorce papers please connect with us. The steps you take in responding can have a major impact on what happens next. This is not the time to make mistakes or guess what you should do. Scheduling a consultation can get you the information you need to evaluate your next steps, plan for your future, and address a pending problem. We are here to make what can be a confusing or overwhelming time easier.


Contact us to learn more about how we can help in the way that is most comfortable for you. You do that can by completing a contact form so we can reach out to you, call/text us anytime, or email us.