You've Been Served

By: Darren Barnett

What to do if you have been served with divorce papers.

You're sitting at your desk working on a hot project for a client when your desk phone rings. Your heart drops as the receptionist tells you, "A police officer is here to see you."

It's a scenario most married people dread, getting served divorce papers. If this happens to you, don't freak out, especially on the serving officer, as they are just the messenger. Your best bet is to stay calm and try to finish the project you were working on. If you are able to leave the office then leave and read the papers thoroughly. When you finish reading them, it's time to start looking for an attorney.

If you have been in any court dealings before and had a trustworthy lawyer, call them first and ask if they have anyone they could refer you to. If you haven't had any court experiences you can start by searching for attorneys on the web. Some good sites to start your search for an attorney are: Legal Match and uReview One of the things that always gets people is looking in the yellow pages. The yellow pages are good for getting a list of attorneys to talk to but don’t trust their ad. Many people have been suckered into inexperienced non-aggressive counsel by picking the biggest advertisement. It’s best to talk to the attorney and get a feel for how comfortable they make you.

When you get a response from an attorney ask if they give free consultations, most do and they are eager to start working on your case so you should get in to see them within a week. It's very important to try and keep your calm around your spouse, the last thing you need is a protective order forcing you not to be able to see your children, if you have any. Some things you may need to bring with you to the lawyers office are: check stubs, previous year’s tax returns, W2's, a list of marital property, and be sure to ask your attorney what else they would like to see to get started on the case. Beware though, most attorneys charge a retainer fee and they will want this before starting the case. A retainer fee is a deposit for the attorney to withdraw from for services rendered. From my experience the typical fee is $1500 US, all firms are different and you should ask how much they charge for a retainer and also how much they charge for each hour. The most often asked question is probably, “How much is this divorce going to cost me?” No one is able to answer this because each case varies in expense; it all depends on how much both parties are willing to compromise. Some cases go through without a hitch and are over in a month, but some have been drug out a year or longer.

Hopefully this article will get you on the right track if you are ever served with divorce papers. And as in any legal matter, knowledge is power; knowing what to expect and what to do is a must.

About The Author
Darren Barnett is the co-founder of; a large database of attorney reviews and ratings.