7 Things To Do When You Were Served Divorce Papers

two wedding rings on a divorce paper

The moment you find yourself holding a set of legal papers, served to you unexpectedly, can stir a whirlwind of emotions. From confusion and anxiety to a pressing need for clarity, it’s a situation many Canadians find themselves in, often without warning. No one ever wants to be stuck in a legal battle,  so thinking with a calm mind is important here. 

Now that the inevitable has happened, what is that you want out of the divorce? We hope this guide helps you answer that question and find a simple path to divorce.  

Step-By-Step Guide On What To Do After You Were Served Papers: 

Step 1: Take a Deep Breath and Don’t Panic

You are shocked and can’t believe you’ve been served papers. You were maybe blindsided by it or you expected the papers and they brought some emotions. You have 30 days to respond, so take your time in finding a clear approach to the situation. 

Step 2: Understand What You’ve Been Served

Carefully read the documents. Legal papers, whether they’re a lawsuit, a summons, or another type of legal notice, will contain critical information. Look for the case number and the deadline by which you must respond or appear in court. 

Step 3: Note the Response Time

In Canada, the timeframe to respond to legal papers typically ranges from 20 to 30 days, depending on the jurisdiction and the type of case. Mark this deadline in your calendar as missing it can lead to a default judgment against you and you might not get to say your part in front of a judge. 

Lawyer signing a document

Step 4: Secure Legal Representation

A family lawyer can provide clarity, outline your options, and develop a strategy for your response. Paint them an honest picture of your marriage and tell them the outcome you expect. A good lawyer will work in your best interests, so make sure to interview a few and find the best match. The Law Society of Canada offers a directory to help you find qualified legal counsel in Brampton.

Step 5: Gather and Organize Relevant Documents

By documents we mean your marriage license and birth certificates of your children, if you have any. If you are working towards sole custody, you will need evidence to support your request. This includes proof that you take care of the kids most of the time, conversation between you and your spouse about childcare responsibilities, and letters from friends and family supporting your words. 

Step 6: Avoid Direct Contact with the Opposing Party

It might be tempting to try and resolve the issue directly with the person or entity that served you. However, it’s advisable to communicate through your lawyer once you’ve secured representation. It doesn’t mean that when you find a lawyer, your case must end in court. You may attempt dispute resolution methods – arbitration or mediation before going to court. Most divorce cases are resolved in the resolution stage. 

Step 7: Stay Organized

As your case progresses, keep detailed records of all communications and documents related to your case. Keep them arranged by date. Set-up routine calls with your divorce lawyer in Brampton so you can catch up on details and inform them of any new information. 

A divorce is stressful, even if it’s mutual, so remember to take care of your mental and physical health. Your friends and family are your support pillars, so lean on them. Work with a psychotherapist to resolve uneasy feelings and/or trauma associated with the divorce. 

Facing divorce? Let Sterling Law guide you with compassion and expertise. Start your journey to a new beginning with us today. Book your first consultation with us today.

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