What should I do if my wife filed for divorce? 27 Answers as of February 16, 2011

I just found out that my wife has filed for divorce. What should I do?

She has transferred most of our savings to an account that she won't disclose. We have two children that I love very much and would like to maintain custody. What do I do?

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Harris Law Firm
Harris Law Firm | Jennifer C. Robins
In the State of Oregon, once you are served with a petition for dissolution (divorce) you have thirty days in which to file a response with the Court. If your response is not filed, the Court could enter a default judgment against you, granting your wife everything she requested in her divorce petition. It is extremely important to read all documentation very careful. You will receive direction on what steps to take after you are served. Your state bar association will be able to help you locate an attorney to assist you. \
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 2/14/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
You should hire a lawyer is my first instinctive answer. The better question is what should you not do? DO NOT sign anything that says waiver unless it is accompanied with a Final Decree of Divorce. Let me repeat this since it is that important: A waiver is similar to a blank check. If you sign just a waiver, you are telling the court that you know your wife filed for divorce, just do as she ask, and send you a copy when it is over. You are most likely agreeing (read the document carefully) that you do not want notice of any hearings. That is the equivalent of just give her what she wants without knowing what she will ask for. If the two of you agree to everything, sign a final decree - it is similar to a completely filled out check - you know what you are getting and what you are paying. If this is the case, then you can sign it and walk off, let her and her attorney do all the work. Now, if you have stuff to fight over, hire a lawyer. Her lawyer is not there for you, he or she cannot represent both of you, only her.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 2/14/2011
Stuart Jon Bierman  Attorney at Law
Stuart Jon Bierman Attorney at Law | Stuart Jon Bierman
You should consult with a lawyer right away. You only have a limited amount of time to file papers in response to the papers your wife filed with the court. You have a lot to lose if you do not handle this properly and a consultation with a lawyer (not a non-lawyer who may be overestimating their knowledge of what goes on at courthouses) is the best way to go.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 2/14/2011
Goodman, Dicus, and Teinert, LLP
Goodman, Dicus, and Teinert, LLP | Paul M. Teinert
You'll have 30 days to respond from the day you were served with the dissolution paperwork. Additionally, if your wife is represented you should look into hiring representation yourself. This may help you avoid losing any assets or rights that you are entitled to at dissolution.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/14/2011
Law Office of Martin Blank
Law Office of Martin Blank | Martin E. Blank
Hire an attorney immediately.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/14/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    The first thing to do if you've been served with a Summons and Complaint for Divorce is to make an appointment with a Matrimonial attorney to discuss your options. If you want to retain custody of your children, you have more of a chance now than ever before. However, it will always depend upon what is in the best interests of the children, which is the primary determination that Judges must make in divorce cases. Usually, those type of issues get settled in some fashion so the children don't suffer and both you and your spouse know what's going to happen in advance of going to court. If she's transferred joint savings or any money that she's saved that was earned throughout the term of your marriage, then that will be recoverable and a negative inference may be taken against her for effectively trying to steal from you.

    There are far too many issues to fully discuss here and that's why I highly recommend you speak to an attorney right away. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/13/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    The Automatic Orders prevent her from transferring assets in this way if if was done after the divorce started. If she did it beforehand the court will still take the asset into consideration. Please contact us if you wish to discuss further; we have a free initial consultation. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 2/13/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    Your issues require the services of experienced counsel. Consult with and retain a local Family Law Attorney, preferably a Certified Family Law Specialist, to represent you, as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/13/2011
    Law Offices Of James C Wing Jr.
    Law Offices Of James C Wing Jr. | James C. Wing, Jr.
    There are big stakes in a divorce, love and money. The process results in an agreement or orders after trial that distribute the assets and debts of the marriage and apportions parenting time with the children. I recommend that you place the matter in the hands of a competent attorney who can protect and advance your interests. Look for an attorney with a philosophy that makes that person a good representative for you. Your spouse and her or his attorney will think you are unreasonable if you follow the advice of a lawyer who is too aggressive, but beware of lawyers who are too passive and might leave something on the table that would have made your life happier. Many lawyers and firms offer free initial consultations, so quickly arrange some meetings and choose someone who you feel you can trust and who you believe will attend to your matter with care and compassion.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 2/13/2011
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
    Hire an attorney, file a response quickly, file an OSC for custody and support.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/13/2011
    Gresham Family & Bankruptcy Law
    Gresham Family & Bankruptcy Law | Lillian Suelzle Watson
    You need to see the "petition for dissolution". This is a document that is filed with the court in your county and states what your Wife wants the terms of the divorce to be when it is final. This would decide who has custody of the children, how support for the family is decided, what happens to any property you own (such as retirements, vehicles and/or accounts). It is a very powerful documents. . . . .

    When you "accept" a copy of the petition or if you are served by the sheriff, you will only have 30 days to answer. If you do not file an answer stating that you disagree with her request, it may be possible for her to be awarded what she requested in the original petition without your input.

    Do not ignore this under any circumstances. Whether you can afford an attorney or not, you must be aware of what she has requested.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 2/12/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    First, you respond, with your Response, immediately. Though she is governed by what are called 'Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders' ('ATRO's), abuse is common and almost never punished. You should file an Ex Parte OSC with your Response, to demand disclosure and immediate equal division of those funds. Otherwise, she will spend them and will get away with it by saying that she needed the money for "the necessities of life". Act fast. 'Equity aids the vigilant, not those who sleep on their rights.' That's a fact. There is no gender presumption in California. You may have additional unpleasantness in the litigation if you wife is going to try to say that you abuse drugs, are an alcoholic or are physically or verbally abusive, but you can combat those allegations, if they are made. Otherwise, there are no obstacles to your having joint legal and physical custody, and 50/50 visitation. Assume that you will. For example, 'week on/week off'. Make it happen.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/12/2011
    Berry Moorman P.C.
    Berry Moorman P.C. | John Schrot Jr.
    Contact and consult with a divorce attorney immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/12/2011
    Boling Rice LLC
    Boling Rice LLC | Theodore Spaulding
    You need to hire an attorney to answer the lawsuit and pursue her for the money transfered etc. Feel free to email or call me if you would like to discuss further.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/12/2011
    Ciccarelli Law Offices
    Ciccarelli Law Offices | Lee Ciccarelli
    The initiation of a divorce by a spouse is always a significant event and should give you reason to pause and consider your best options. You have options; and you have rights and it is a matter of taking sensible, but persistent and aggressive steps to stand up for your family, your children and your rights. It may make sense for you contact us to speak with family lawyer Joshua Janis.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 2/12/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    First and formost, you must file a response to the Petition for divorce within 30 days. If you do not do so, she may seek a divorce by default. If that occurs, she may acquire the relief requested without the court considering your objections. In short, that means you better lawyer up. For a consultation call us.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    You have 30 days to respond to her divorce papers in writing. How you respond is very important and will dictate a lot of what comes next. You will have the opportunity to fight for custody of your children. You need to talk to a family lawyer as soon as possible so you can get started on your case. I would be happy to give you a free phone consult and hopefully put you on the right path. Please call me. I have helped many men in your position before, and I know the path you will have to take. Again, time is of the essence here, so whether it's me or someone else, talk to a lawyer as soon as you can.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
    Hire an attorney to help you, and gather whatever information you can about your accounts, assets, and debts. If you have any further questions, please let me know.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP
    Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP | Hal D. Bartholomew
    Normally, if your wife filed for divorce, the next step would be for her ( or her attorney) to have the divorce papers physically served on you. In California there is procedure where the papers are mailed to you and you are given 20 days to sign an acknowledgement of service and return that paper to the sender. Once you are served or have accepted service you have 30 days to file a response with the court. You should consult with an attorney as to your remedies as far as the money that was transferred and establishing how the two of you will be sharing the children in the future.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    Goldberg Jones
    Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
    Once you are served you have 30 days to file a Response, but there is no reason to wait that long. You should seek counsel from a good family law lawyer in your area and start planning a strategy. The next few weeks can make a big difference in how you do in your divorce.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
    It is important to review your situation with a divorce attorney as soon as possible to determine what your options are.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    It is not possible to describe the entire divorce process via email. Plus, each divorce can be different depending on the issues involved (e.g., asset/debt division, custody, support, etc), and the facts. It would be best for you to simply call a divorce lawyer near you to discuss the specific facts of your case and your options. With that said, unless your wife agrees to an extension, you need to file a response within 30 days of being served with the divorce petition, assuming you and your wife will not be able to resolve your case by agreement.

    If you can resolve all issue by agreement, then you can finalize your case by default (with an agreement). That will allow you to avoid having to file a response. Again, best to call a local family law lawyer to discuss your options, at which time, he/she can educate you to the divorce process that is relevant to your case. If you are in Marin or Sonoma County, feel free to contact my office. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    Steven D. Keist, Attorney at Law
    Steven D. Keist, Attorney at Law | Steven D. Keist
    You should file a response the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. You should also make an appointment with an attorney so that you are well informed of your rights in Arizona regarding custody, division of property, division of debt, division of retirement, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
    Hire a lawyer immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 2/11/2011
    Arnold & Wadsworth
    Arnold & Wadsworth | Brian Arnold
    This means you will be served soon. Once you are served you are required to answer the divorce petition within 20 days. It is important to do such because if you do not answer she can ask the court to grant her everything that she asked for in the Divorce Petition. You should meet with an attorney to assess your situation and decided the best way to move forward. You will probably want to file a counter-petition of divorce asking for the distributions that you want. If there are children custody will be an issue. Make sure you know all your rights and possible outcomes before you proceed.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 2/11/2011
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