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Four Tips For Coping With Surprise Divorce Papers

By the time most couples file for divorce, the writing has usually been on the wall for months or even years, and neither party is truly surprised when the marriage dissolves. In some cases of long-distance relationships, infidelity or poor communication, however, you may not have even realized that divorce was on the table until your spouse serves you the papers. Your first response to such a trying moment might be to angrily call up your spouse and refuse to cooperate, but this is the worst possible move you can make. Instead, follow these five tips to protect yourself and resolve the divorce as quickly as possible.  

Resist the Urge to Lash Out

Shock, anger and grief are all normal, healthy emotions to experience in the moments, days and weeks following a divorce notice. It can be especially difficult to maintain your composure when you are served papers in front of others, such as at your workplace. But blowing up and having a public meltdown will only make things worse and distract you from the critical first steps that can help you regain the upper hand in the divorce. 

Assess Your Spouse's Terms of Divorce

Once you have accepted that your spouse is seeking a divorce, go over the terms outlined in the papers to get a better understanding of his or her proposed terms. Some couples are able to split amicably, and your spouse may be seeking a clean divorce without the need for lawyers. If, on the other hand, your spouse has hired an attorney and is listing demands you do not agree with, you must prepare to defend yourself and your belongings legally. 

Hire an Attorney

No one can navigate a divorce and ensure you receive your fair share of marital assets like an attorney. A divorce attorney (like those at Kolker Law Offices PC) will show you how to lock down your bank account, claim your stake in any property you share with your spouse and gather evidence that can help you receive a fairer judgment in court. Having a knowledgeable ally to shoulder some of your burden is invaluable when you have just been shocked with the end of your marriage, so start calling promising attorneys as soon as you have processed the papers. 

Manage Any Grief or Anger With Professional Counseling

A 2013 study of recently divorced individuals found that divorce is, unsurprisingly, associated with depression, stress and anxiety. The risk of developing depression is especially pronounced in those who have been depressed before; while people who had never been depressed experienced the condition at a rate of around 10 percent following divorce, 60 percent of those with a prior history became depressed after their marriage ended.

Although it is normal to feel sad and angry during divorce, these emotions should not control your life. Throughout the process, speak to a psychologist or counselor whenever your feelings begin to impact your daily functioning. Surprise divorces are almost never a welcome development, but you can emerge on the other side stronger, happier and financially in-tact, if you handle the situation calmly, quickly and professionally.