I’ve Been Served with a Florida Divorce Petition: What Should I Do?
Hello, my name is Chris Taylor. I’m a divorce and family law attorney practicing in Northeast Florida. I have offices in both St. Augustine and Jacksonville.
The topic of today’s podcast and blog post is “I’ve been served with a divorce petition: what should do I do”? The text has been transcribed from a voice file, so it’s more of a conversational style than my typically writing. This material is educational and that it shouldn’t be construed as legal advice. You need to sit down with an attorney and discuss your case prior to receiving legal advice. With that, let’s get started.
The first step if you’ve been served with a divorce petition is to take a deep breath, and what I mean by that is that you need to remain as calm as possible and I realize that that may not be easy but the actions you take earlier in the case many times can have significant implications for how case will go later on.
So, the first part of taking a deep breath is don’t react in anger. It’s better to stay calm in the first day or so and gather your thoughts. If you have a support group that you can trust, reach out to them. A minister or spiritual advisory is great or friends that you can trust.
Find Legal Representation
Your second priority is finding legal representation. The first way to do this is through referrals. Do you know friends or family, coworkers have gone through a divorce recently and used a divorce attorney? These people can often provide good insights on how their attorney handled their case, and that’s a great way to find an attorney. I get a significant amount of my business through referrals.
The second method to find an attorney is through the Internet. In my opinion, the Internet revolutionized how people find legal services. Twenty years ago, it was difficult to know how an attorney treated their clients unless it was by word of mouth. With the Internet there is a plethora of resources like avvo.com and Google that provide reviews that provide some level of insight into how attorneys treat their clients, particularly if they’re not treating them well. The reviews can provide a good insight.
You should find an attorney that practices primarily divorce and family law. Ideally, an attorney who has been practicing law for 10 years or more. Although there are some good new attorneys, a more experienced family law attorney usually better able to handle complicated divorce issues than the attorney right out of law school.
Once you’ve identified the potential attorneys, I recommend that you schedule consultations with at least three separate attorneys. During the consultation, it’s important to determine whether you can have a good rapport with the attorney because divorce is a very emotional and difficult event. Ask about how many cases the attorney has handled. Ask if the attorney focus is primarily on family law?
You want to do hire an attorney quickly because you usually have 20 days to file a response after being served.
The third thing that you need to do after you’ve been served with a divorce petition is you need to set up a plan to keep yourself healthy. Going through a divorce can be traumatic event. It’s important to set up a plan to keep yourself healthy going and minimize stress. I can’t overstate the importance of this. So if you already exercise and you have healthy healthful regimen then that’s great. Depending on your level of fitness, walking and going to the gym are great stress comping mechanisms. If you have medical issues, please consult with your doctor. Exercise combined with a healthy diet will enhance your wellness during a divorce.
You try to avoid negative behaviors and destructive addictive behaviors when you’re going through a divorce case. You will be under a microscope in a contested divorce case and it’s really important that you avoid destructive behaviors to the extent possible. Negative behaviors, such as alcoholism and drug use, often become issues in a case, particularly if children are involved.
Fourth, once you have an attorney follow their advice. You should set the goals for the case, but follow your attorney’s advice on how to reach those goals. Divorce is process that most people don’t go through very often or never.Typically, you won’t be as familiar with the divorce process as an attorney who practices family law on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean to follow you attorney’s advice blindly. Ask a lot of questions, but following your attorney’s advice, in most cases, is going to be better than acting on impulse.
If you have any other questions about being served with a divorce petition and what to do next, you’re welcome to contact my office. You can reach me through this website and schedule a consultation.