First of all, do not panic. While getting served with a lawsuit is unpleasant, it is not an immediate life sentence.  Find an attorney. Fortunately, if you are reading this post, you know of a quality divorce and family attorney. But seriously, call on a trusted friend or colleague. If you have a friend who is an attorney, attorneys tend to know other attorneys. Ask that friend for a family law referral. If you have a friend who went through a divorce or family law process, ask them for a recommendation. Do not ignore the paperwork, once you are served you have 30 days to start participating in the case.

Meet a couple of attorneys and determine who feels right. Measure whether their practice philosophy is in line with your goals. If you are terrified, find someone who makes you feel protected. If you’re concerned your parenting rights will be marginalized find counsel who will advocate on your behalf.

If you are concerned about your hard-earned assets, find an attorney who is knowledgeable in the business and savvy enough to help you manage and protect your wealth.

If parenting time and involvement is a concern, make a list of your children’s teachers, coaches, and medical providers. Know your children’s schedules and their friends.

If finances are an immediate concern, try to take note of all mail that comes to the house, note the financial institutions from which the mail is coming from. Try to get copies of tax returns and bank statements. Again, do not panic. Illinois requires full disclosure of assets and income and a good professional will help you become fluent in the family finances.

Be aware of your monthly expenses as you will be expected to complete a verified affidavit form.

Secure passwords to both email accounts and financial accounts.

Secure trusted counsel. Make sure they communicate with you and answer your questions. Ensure you choose someone who has compassion, empathy, confidence, and a strong knowledge of the law.

Candace L. Meyers, Partner

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