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4 things to do when you get served with divorce papers

Not everyone seeking divorce advice is the spouse initiating the end of the marriage. Sometimes, divorce papers may come unexpectedly or undesirably to one spouse, who then is at a loss at how to react properly. What should you do when you find yourself in this situation?

Your next moves are important, because they can influence how the rest of your divorce goes. Take these four immediate steps to increase the chances of a better outcome.

1. Do not retaliate

You may act out of fear and want to leave with the kids to protect them or retaliate against your spouse. Even if your domestic circumstances warrant such protection, that reaction may constitute kidnap and severely harm your custody case. Do not abandon your home or kids until you have talked to a lawyer.

2. Contact a family law attorney

Do this step as soon as possible. You have 21 days to respond to divorce papers in Utah, so you need to review your options with a qualified attorney. Items to discuss include living arrangements, temporary custody and property division. If domestic violence is an issue, be sure to discuss this so you can take legal routes for protection.

3. Speak with your spouse about alternative resolution

Whether or not you knew the divorce was coming, try talking to your spouse about better ways to proceed with the divorce. You may find you both have the children's best interests at heart and are willing to try mediation or negotiation before heading to court. Even if these methods do not address the entire divorce agreement, they can still decrease how much you have to come to terms with through litigation.

4. File your response

Once you have an idea of what you want, what your divorce may entail and proper legal representation, you can file your response. You can agree to your spouse's terms or contest them, and then go from there.

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