An all too unfortunate reality now is that about half of all marriages end in divorce. Whether the writing has been on the wall for a while or you felt blindsided when your spouse asked for a divorce, you should take the proper steps to protect yourself, your family, and your future as soon as divorce proceedings begin.
How Do Divorce Proceedings Begin in Georgia?
Your spouse may talk to you before they file the divorce complaint, or they may file the divorce paperwork and let you handle the fallout. Once the paperwork is filed with the court, you’ll have 30 days to answer the complaint and give a formal response.
After the proceedings start, you’ll need to be mindful of a few factors to ensure your divorce isn’t more painful or dragged out than necessary.
Stay Calm: Finding Out About Divorce Can Be Alarming
As joyous as engagements or weddings are, learning your spouse wants to end your marriage can be shocking and hurtful. Remaining calm is usually the best course of action. That may be easier said than done but maintaining your composure can increase the odds of a better outcome.
Losing your temper or reacting harshly after your spouse brings up a divorce can lead to unfavorable outcomes for you later down the line, including getting reduced custody of your kids or even having a protective or restraining order filed against you. Breaking these orders means strict punishments.
Learn Your Legal Options
Once you learn about the divorce, you should consider what that means for you and how it will affect your life in the months to come. Will you be better off leaving the marital home? Can you take the children with you? Where do you file paperwork?
You’ll likely have more questions about the divorce process in Georgia as well as the effects of a divorce. You can do some basic research on your own, but you should try to find the best divorce attorney you can who will prioritize your family’s safety and peace of mind.
Find a Georgia Family Law Attorney
While your research might get you started, it’s really in your best interest to find a family law attorney with experience and knowledge to help you navigate the divorce process.
A divorce attorney can assess your situation, identify your next steps, and draft an answer to a divorce complaint. They will represent you in court and work to keep the divorce process moving smoothly at every step of the way.
Protect Your Assets and Yourself
If you and your spouse have shared assets, like a house or bank account, you should keep track of any ownership documentation and changes around these assets.
Provide your attorney with a list of anything that could be considered shared property. Whether your name is on the title or not, assets purchased during your marriage (or those assets that accrued value during the marriage) may still be considered marital property so make sure to keep a full and detailed list of all assets in both your names.
What Actions Should You Avoid After a Spouse Asks for Divorce?
Divorce can bring significant changes to your life. It isn’t unreasonable to feel hurt or to need time to collect your thoughts after your spouse tells you they want to end your marriage, but you shouldn’t do anything rash.
Make sure you don’t do any of the following:
Don’t Act to Spite Your Soon-to-be Ex
Although you might feel slighted because your spouse decided to file for divorce, you need to look rationally at your situation. Acting out of anger or spite will make you look irresponsible, irrational, or just plain crazy to the judge on your case. Don’t spend large amounts of money on unnecessary items or act aggressively toward your spouse.
Assume that your actions will be closely scrutinized because your spouse’s attorney can and will use any bad behavior as evidence against you during the proceedings.
Do Not Gossip About Your Situation
Social media is a huge part of almost everyone’s lives. You might be tempted to document the divorce online to vent to friends and family. However, this merely provides ammunition to your spouse’s attorney. Keep those close to you informed, but let the dust settle before you tell everyone everything.
Keep the Kids Out of the Middle of Everything
If you and your spouse have any children together, you want what’s best for them throughout the divorce process and beyond. That means you should avoid badmouthing your spouse to them or using them as leverage against your spouse.
Doing so could mean you end up with a less favorable child custody arrangement. Do your best to stay as neutral about your spouse as possible when speaking with your kids and let them know it’s not their fault. You can be honest with them while keeping some boundaries in place. You don’t have to share all the gory details, but you should talk to them honestly about how their lives are going to change and what this means for them. In a lot of cases, this means that they’ll have happier and healthier parents.
Call Gentry Law to Help Deal with Your Divorce
You might have felt blindsided after your spouse told you they intended to file for divorce, but the Gentry Law Firm’s family law attorneys are here to help you stay on your feet and fight for your best outcome. We have the experience necessary to assess your case and help you move forward.