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Being served with divorce papers can be an incredibly confusing and emotional experience, but you don’t have to feel lost in the dark about what comes next. Below, you can find four easy, practical steps to get started…
First things first, it's crucial to remember not to panic or act impulsively. This is not the time to start hiding assets or canceling your bank accounts. Instead, start by seeking out an attorney who can explain your legal rights and responsibilities and begin helping you create a roadmap for what’s to come.
Next, it’s a good idea to reach out to your family and friends for emotional support. Remember: People who have a strong support system are often able to get through the emotional aspects of divorce far better than those who don't.
Connecting with your loved ones can provide you with helpful perspectives and emotional stability while you navigate this challenging time.
After seeking legal counsel and emotional support, you’ll want to perform a thorough review of your financial situation by gathering records of your debts, assets, monthly bills, utilities, and more.
If you have electronic access to your credit card and bank accounts, take screenshots to capture the current state of your finances. This snapshot will protect you, acting as evidence should your spouse act inappropriately by hiding assets or accumulating debt.
What’s more, your attorney will need all this information to provide you with accurate advice about possibly separating or redirecting accounts. For example, if your salary is directly deposited into a joint account, your attorney can help you decide whether or not you should redirect it to a new account.
(Tip: It’s also a good idea to have a discussion with your lawyer about how to best keep track of your finances moving forward.)
Finally, it’s best to exercise caution before making any decisions about leaving the house – especially if you have children. Unless you're in an unsafe situation, don't simply move out and take the kids without consulting your attorney.
And keep this in mind: The courts generally frown upon actions that restrict one parent's access to their children, so while it might not be illegal to limit the other parent's access, it could adversely impact your case and be detrimental to your family in the long run.
How quickly your divorce can be resolved will depend on a number of factors. If you and your spouse agree on everything and you don't have kids, the process is usually very fast. You can go to a lawyer who can help you fill out the forms, the papers can be sent to the court, and within just a few days, the judge could sign off on it and your divorce will be finalized.
If you do have kids, things slow down a bit. If you have children, Kentucky law says you have to wait 60 days after filing the initial paperwork before a divorce will be granted.
If you and your spouse agree on everything after that, you can go back to your lawyer, sign the final papers, and send them to the court. A few days later, the judge will likely approve your divorce. In these cases, the process is still relatively quick, but you have to wait those 60 days.
If you and your spouse can't agree on key issues, it's a different story. Hotly contested issues like child custody and dividing the marital home can make the process take much longer. In general, courts prefer that you try to work these things out yourselves, especially when it comes to the kids. But if you can't agree, then the court will have to decide for you, and that means going to trial.
Unfortunately, preparing for trial takes a lot of time and this can stretch the process out for several months or even years. And the longer it takes, the more it will cost you, both in terms of money and emotional stress. For this reason, it’s best to try and work things out – and to work with a lawyer who can help you get there along the way. For more information on Initiating A Divorce In The State Of Kentucky, an initial consultation is your next best step.