Going through a divorce is stressful. Getting served with divorce papers can be scary – and if you weren't expecting them, it can be downright disorienting. However, it doesn't have to be that way. Here are four immediate actions you should take if you are served with divorce papers in South Dakota.
Action #1 - Contact an attorney
If you are served with a Summons and Complaint seeking a divorce, the very first thing you should do is request a meeting with an experienced family law attorney. Time matters, particularly early in the case, and you don't want to negatively impact your case by waiting too long. It is important that you contact an attorney sooner rather than later, because the more time you give your South Dakota family law attorney, the more opportunity he or she has to advise you about your legal options and protect your interests.
Action # 2 - Begin gathering information
In a divorce, information is power. Understanding your family's finances is crucial and it is essential to begin gathering documents immediately. Make copies of pay stubs, bank statements, retirement account statements, credit card statements, income tax returns, and anything else that might be important. It's much easier to begin gathering this type of information early on rather than wait until the case is months down the road. Your attorney will be able to provide a list of documents and information which will be necessary for the case.
Action #3 - Don't get your children involved
Although it may be difficult, you should resist the urge to involve your children in the divorce. Do not share your frustration with them, and do not make negative remarks to them about your spouse. Do not allow them to read the divorce papers, no matter how angry the allegations may make you. Divorce is already a difficult process for the entire family, and putting the children into the middle of things will only make it worse. Your job is to be there to support the kids, even when you may need support of your own.
Action #4 - Don't do anything dumb
The emotions involved in a divorce can lead otherwise nice people to behave badly. Lashing out at your spouse (via social media, verbally, physically, or otherwise) will not make you feel any better, and doing so could end up causing problems later in the case. Maintain good judgment when you are around your spouse and do not post anything "dumb" online, as your words will likely come back to bite you later.