What Should I Do After I Was Served Divorce Papers?

6What Should I Do After I Was Served Divorce Papers?

When you get served with divorce papers, it can bring up many emotions. No matter how much you have prepared yourself for this moment, you may still feel upset, angry, or stressed out. You suddenly realize that your marriage is indeed coming to an end. While you knew this was coming, you may not know what to do now that you have been served with official divorce papers. An experienced Charlotte divorce attorney will help guide you through the process.


Divorce Summons and Complaint

Although people generally call them “divorce papers,” they are actually legal documents. The summons is the document that indicates that you are the defendant or respondent in a divorce proceeding. The summons is a document that contains the legal date by which you must respond. The person filing or initiating the divorce is called the petitioner or plaintiff. Generally, in North Carolina absolute divorce is no-fault. Parties must live apart for a period of at least one year before they can proceed with a divorce.


Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How should I prepare if I intend to file for divorce in the near future?”


What is Included in Divorce Papers?

Divorce papers are legal documents and must include specific information that pertains to the couple. The documents will include the names of the parties, the residence, including county, the date the marriage took place, the children of the parties, and the provision that at least one of the parties has lived in North Carolina for the previous six months. The complaint may also contain property division, custody, visitation, alimony, and child support details, as well as any other claims regarding the dissolution of marriage. If you are unsure as to the meaning of the documents, it is best to seek help from a skilled divorce attorney.


Respond Before the Deadline

Divorce papers are legal documents, and you must respond to them appropriately. The law allows the respondent 30 days from the date of service to respond to the complaint and summons. You must not ignore that date or you could forfeit some of your rights. If you are going to be unable to respond within the deadline, you may be able to get an extension. You are typically allowed only one extension in the process. It is critical to respond if you do not agree with the provisions of the documents.



Gather Information

A divorce is a legal proceeding in front of a judge. You will need to prepare your case for the hearing. Gather information that will help resolve the case fairly and in a reasonable period of time. According to North Carolina law, couples are to divide their property in an equal manner. This presumes that both parties will receive a fair portion of their assets. Assets and property that you owned before you got married may be yours alone and not included in the settlement. You will want to gather paperwork and receipts to help prove your personal or separate assets.


Get Legal Help

While you are not required to have a divorce attorney, it is often beneficial. In North Carolina, the requirement for a one-year separation means that your divorce should not come as a surprise. If you have not already consulted with an attorney, meet with a divorce attorney as soon as possible after you are served with divorce papers. You will want to leave yourself enough time to comply with the 30-day response period and gain a complete understanding of the process and what to expect.


If you were served with divorce papers, do not delay. Call our legal team today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at (704) 370-2828 to request a consultation.






The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.



Separation and Divorce | North Carolina Judicial Branch (nccourts.gov)

divorce | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)


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