Even if you've been discussing divorce with your spouse, actually being served with the official paperwork will be a shocking experience. There will be some things that you need to do once you receive those papers, and your wife or husband will already have a head start at this point. Here is what you should do when you are served those divorce papers.

Respond To Your Divorce Petition

The first thing you'll want to do is file a formal response with your local family court regarding the divorce petition. You will be given the option to make a counterclaim to what is in the documents or say that you agree with what was stated on the documents in regards to the grounds of the divorce. When counterclaiming a divorce petition, you must give your reasons for why the divorce is happening. For example, if the marriage is ending over infidelity, you can make a counterclaim so that the correct reason is given.

The paperwork will state when you need to make your formal response, and if you do not respond by the deadline, your local family court will move forward with the divorce process without you. There is then a risk of the divorce being uncontested, which means you lose out on giving input on legal issues.

Get Your Documents Organized

Throughout your marriage, there will have been a lot of debts and assets that were accumulated by both parties. Now is the time to get copies of financial documents to prepare for the divorce proceedings. You should be getting records of bank statements, your income taxes, and anything that is relevant to property ownership. These documents help form a complete picture of your finances as a couple.

Hire A Lawyer

You will want a lawyer on your side to help you through the divorce process. You can bring them all your financial documents, and they can even handle your court-mandated correspondence on your behalf. It's the best way to make sure that you stay on top of deadlines.

In addition, it's a good idea to store your documents from your lawyer somewhere that your spouse doesn't have access to them. Keep them at work if necessary, or put them away in a lockbox that only you have access to. You do not want your spouse snooping around paperwork that is only meant for you to view.

Your lawyer will walk you through the rest of the process of getting your divorce finalized. For more information, check out a website like http://WWW.TML-LAW.com.