Divorce is a common legal action, but the frequency with which it occurs does not diminish its stressfulness. Receiving notice that your husband has filed for divorce, especially where his failure to talk to you may indicate a high level of conflict, requires prompt action to protect your personal well-being, your financial assets and your legal rights.
Divorce requires reorganizing household tasks and obligations, and often involves mourning the loss of a personal relationship and changing parenting patterns and finding a new self-identity as an unmarried person. Each of these changes creates stress that can damage physical and mental health, according to the Iowa State University Extension. Receiving an unexpected notice that your husband has filed divorce, or having your estranged spouse stop speaking to you, can exacerbate the difficulty of adjusting to the divorce process. Take steps to manage the stress of divorce, including scheduling time for relaxation and minimizing unnecessary work or social obligations; consult a qualified mental health professional promptly to deal with any unmanageable negative symptoms of stress.
You also need to protect your financial health by safeguarding your personal and marital assets. Copy all important legal and financial paperwork including deeds, bank account records, insurance documents and tax returns; store the copies in a safe location outside the home. Record information regarding assets such as retirement and investment accounts as well as antiques, artwork and other valuable collections in the home. The preferred location to store these documents is at your attorney's office, according to Iowa divorce lawyer Robert E. Peterson. Open a bank account in your own name; consider withdrawing half the money in any joint accounts and depositing it in your personal bank account. Further, cancel any jointly held credit cards to avoid the possibility of being held liable for anything your husband might charge after filing for divorce.
Learn Your Rights
The rights of a spouse who has been served a notice of divorce vary from state to state, but all state laws address issues of temporary and permanent child support, alimony or other forms spousal support, as well as division of marital and personal assets. Visit the court in which the divorce action has been filed and request from the clerk any information available regarding your rights in a divorce action. If financially feasible, consult with a qualified divorce attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, even if you are going to represent yourself in the divorce process. Many states have programs through which a free or low-cost consultation with a divorce attorney is available if you demonstrate financial hardship. An attorney can provide you with timely, accurate information regarding your rights during divorce.
Answer the Legal Documents
File a notice of appearance and response or answer to the divorce petition within the timelines required by your state's divorce process rules. Filing before the court deadline is important, because failure to meet the deadline may result in a default judgment being entered against you, resulting in the loss of valuable rights, according to the Southern Illinois School of Law Self-Help Legal Center. If you do not wish to divorce, you can file an opposition and request to have the divorce petition dismissed. If the divorce petition states that you are at fault for causing the divorce, you may want to file a counter-petition claiming that your husband is at fault. All states have a no-fault divorce provision, in which you can indicate that you agree with the request for divorce without stating that one party or the other has caused the divorce. Consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction for accurate information regarding the options and timelines for responding to the divorce filings.