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What do you do when your spouse files for divorce?

Being served divorce papers can create a wealth of emotional responses. No matter how happy you have been in your marriage or whether you were waiting for the appropriate time to leave your partner, you might feel everything from rage to despair, jealousy and defeat.

You must generally respond to a marriage dissolution petition within 21 days if you wish to retain your right to protect your interests. While three weeks may seem like a short timeframe in which to make your case, there is no need to panic. Do you know what information you should provide to the court?

Consider who you want to be – regardless of marital status

Your response to your spouse’s divorce petition should specify whether you agree that his or her factual statements about things like names, dates of marriage and separation and other statistical information was accurate. If it was not, you provide corrected information. As well, you can identify the general categories of issues you believe should be addressed, such as child support, spousal maintenance, parenting time arrangements and property division. However, this is not the time that you have to be prepared to identify the details of how you believe those issues should be determined.

In addition to the legal rights and obligations associated with your divorce, you must consider your emotional wellbeing. Despite your emotional turmoil, consider what you can do to minimize your stress or regrets throughout the process.

Once the divorce has been filed, reconciliation may be unlikely. Rather than begging to work things out or trying to prove your worth, focus on being your best self. Some behaviors to embrace include:

  • Reduce the chance of escalating arguments by treating your partner with respect
  • Discuss your feelings with a counselor, rather than relying on your spouse for support
  • Do not rely on your partner for advice as to how to proceed- protecting your interests will not be their priority now
  • Continue to involve yourself with friends and family members
  • Allow personal space so your partner can process their thoughts without added resentment
  • Make positive choices for your optimal health, regardless of how things proceed

Although you may be unable to salvage your marriage, your efforts might allow you and your partner to part ways more amicably. Meanwhile, recognizing that you can only control yourself could be the incentive you need to work through your inner challenges, so they do not interfere with possible relationships ahead.

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