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How to Handle a Surprise Divorce Filing

 Posted on January 19, 2023 in Divorce

Kane County Divorce LawyerMost of the time, a divorce is something that both you and your spouse can see coming and make plans regarding how to handle it. On occasion, however, it comes as a surprise. The pop culture scene of the husband or wife being served at their door with divorce papers does still happen in this day and age. If this does happen to you, it is important that you react quickly. If you do not, and your spouse has malicious intentions, you may be put in a very difficult position.

Information Is Key

According to current estimates, as many as two of every three marriages experience issues with hidden assets. If your spouse decides to file for divorce first, it gives him or her the advantage of time in which they may attempt to conceal property or revenue streams. Though there is very little legal advantage to filing first, some spouses do use the element of surprise in an effort to manipulate the proceedings. In addition to possibly hiding assets, some may try “conflict out”—which means meeting with the top-rated divorce attorneys in a certain area, so as to establish an attorney-client relationship, thus leaving the other spouse with no available attorney without a potential conflict of interest.

The most intelligent thing you can possibly do if you are served divorce papers is to gather any and all household information and make sure you have it on hand. Making copies of documents such as tax returns, insurance policies, bank statements and the like can serve you well in the future. By doing so, you may be then able to stop any attempt at concealment. This can also apply to household possessions, as taking an inventory of valuables like jewelry, artwork, stocks, and bonds can help prevent an attempt by your spouse to omit the existence or misrepresent the value of such items.

Parental Rights

One of the things that prospective divorcees bring up regularly is a fear that not being the first to file puts them at a disadvantage in negotiating arrangements for the couple’s children. This is not the case in Illinois. The courts in Illinois will always attempt to allocate parental responsibilities—formerly called “child custody”—in a manner that is in the best interests of the child. To make this determination, the court will consider:

  • The parents’ wishes

  • The child’s wishes, taking into account the child’s age and maturity level

  • The child’s situation in their community and their relationships with siblings, friends, and others who might affect their well-being

  • The potential to cause harm to the child’s or parent’s mental, physical, or emotional health

  • Any history of violence against the child in their current situation, among other similar factors

It is plausible that a malicious spouse may try to discredit his or her counterpart, but this would likely be ignored by a competent judge. Allegations as to a parent’s unfitness must be thoroughly investigated before being used as proof.

Work With a Skilled Geneva Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is one of the most significantly traumatic events that can happen to a person, and it is even worse when it begins as a complete surprise. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney at Serrano Hanson to discuss your options. Call 630-844-8781 for a consultation.




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