No one plans to go through divorce. Even when things are not going well in your marriage, it is always a shock to be served with a petition for divorce. Being served with a divorce petition is probably something you never thought would happen to you, however, when you get served with a divorce petition, failing to act is planning to fail. Knowing that divorces can be messy is one part of the job, protecting yourself in the storm of the divorce process is the other part. If you have received a petition for divorce from your spouse, below are seven of the most important immediate actions to take to protect your legal rights and interest, when facing a divorce in Oklahoma.
Read the Petition for Divorce
Although you may presume to know the content of the papers that have just been delivered to you, it won’t hurt to go through the details of the divorce paperwork. Carefully reading through the papers can expose you to a wealth of information including the court where the action was initiated, the deadline for response, and whether or not the initiating party is acting alone or with help from an attorney.
As part of the information on the papers, you will also find the legal grounds for divorce as well as certain requests like child support, spousal support, property division, child custody, and other pertinent issues. You may be able to identify your spouse’s goals in the divorce, as well as what he or she cares the most about in the process. Developing a clear understanding of your spouse’s position in the petition will assist you and your counsel in developing a good strategy to responding to the divorce petition.
Respond to the Divorce Petition
After having carefully read through the document, you’ll find the deadline upon which your response is required. In Oklahoma you have 20 days to respond to the divorce petition by filing an answer and counter-petition, from the date you were served with the divorce petition. Be sure of the deadline as missing it can mean forfeiture of the opportunity to seek certain relief in the divorce process or even having a default divorce entered against you. You may hire a family lawyer to take a look at the document and provide a response to the demands contained in it. However, if you are unable to come up with the legal fees demanded by a family lawyer, you may proceed to present your response. In your response, you must state your response to each allegation or request of your spouse.
Hire an Oklahoma Divorce Attorney
The divorce process in Oklahoma can go many different directions and you may be bogged down by the process itself without experienced divorce counsel. You will likley miss certain opportunities in your case, if you lack the proper understanding of the laws and rules governing divorce in Oklahoma. It is in your interest to hire an experienced family lawyer. The cost of hiring an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney is far less than the money you are likely to lose overtime from paying too much alimony, too much child support, turning over too much property, and/or giving up retirement that you may save with an experienced attorney.
Your chosen Oklahoma divorce attorney will go through the document, educate you on what each request in your spouse’s petition means and what it translates into long-term. Additionally, an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney can advise you of the best course of action, as well as alternative options at every step of the divorce process. Your divorce attorney will draft your response to each request based on your desired outcome and represent your interest if the case later becomes contested.
It is most important for you to retain the services of an experienced divorce attorney if your spouse has retained one. Failing to retain an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney’s services puts you at the mercy of your spouse’s legal team during the case. Family law is a court of equity; however, the game will not be fair, if you do not have an equal or greater divorce legal team that your spouse.
Gather Important Documents
If you have contacted a divorce lawyer, they will request you to gather necessary documents that can be used to ascertain your finances and protect you. Common documents requested include birth certificates, bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns over the last three years, and investment documents. These documents will help your legal team to identify your income, debt, tax, assets, and more.
Protect your Assets
As part of the divorce process, assets protection is essential. Discuss with your family law attorneys how you can protect your assets and maximize what you take out of the divorce. If you own a joint account with your spouse, you can withdraw as much as 50 percent of the amount in the account before it is frozen as part of the divorce process, i.e. do it now! You need to change where your income is deposited, if your income goes directly into the joint account. In general, your divorce lawyer will work closely with you to ensure your finances and assets are protected.
Your voice and electronic communication during the divorce process are important. You should ensure that passwords are changed and strict measures are put in place to safeguard information exchange between you and your divorce attorneys. It helps if you can keep information about your divorce away from the internet too. You likely have many passwords that your spouse knows or could easily guess the password for, which is why it is important to identify a password that your spouse would not know, that you have not used before and change the password on every social media, email, and other account. In many cases, we advise our divorce clients to open a brand new email account and use it for all potentially sensitive communication, especially when communicating with our office.
Cannon & Associates – Your Fierce Advocates for Divorce in Oklahoma
Protecting yourself in a divorce can help you hit the ground running after the case has been finalized. Our Fierce Advocates at Cannon & Associates are here for you. We put all of our resources together to back you. Our commitment is to ensure that you achieve a better result in your divorce than you would without our services and that our legal fee is less in the end than the money we save you in retirement, alimony, and child support. Contact us at Cannon & Associates to set up a free consultation regarding your divorce.