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How can I find out if my lawyer filed the divorce papers?

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 15, 2023)

Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 09:01 am


How Can I Find Out If My Lawyer Filed the Divorce Papers?

Going through a divorce can be an extremely difficult and stressful time. You have likely hired a lawyer to handle the legal aspects of your divorce, but you may be wondering how you can find out if they have actually filed the paperwork to start the divorce proceedings. Here are some tips to help you figure out the status of your divorce filing:

Contact Your Lawyer Directly

The easiest way to find out if your divorce papers have been filed is to simply contact your lawyer and ask. Your lawyer should be communicating with you regularly about the status of your case, but don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you have any questions or concerns. Send an email or call their office and ask them directly whether the paperwork has been submitted to the court yet. Make sure to get confirmation in writing for your own records.

Check Online Court Records

Many court systems now have online databases where you can search for cases that have been filed. Do an online search for “[your county] court records” and see if you can find a website that allows you to search by party name. If your divorce paperwork has been submitted, it should show up in the system within a few days under your name, your spouse’s name, or both. Just search for your names and see if your divorce comes up.

Contact the Courthouse Directly

If you can’t find case records online, call the clerk’s office at your county courthouse and ask them to check if a divorce case has been filed under your name. Have your full legal name and your spouse’s name ready to provide. The clerks can manually look through recent filings to see if your paperwork has been submitted. This may take some time on their end, so be patient.

Check Your Mail and Email

Once your divorce paperwork is filed, you will receive legal notice from the court. This usually comes in the form of a mailed summons. Your lawyer should also email or mail you copies of the paperwork after filing it. Check both your physical mailbox and email inbox to see if any divorce-related documents have arrived from the court or your attorney.

Ask Your Spouse

If you have an amicable relationship with your soon-to-be ex, consider reaching out to them directly to ask if they know whether the divorce paperwork has been filed yet. They likely would have been served by your lawyer already if it was submitted. Just ask politely – you don’t need to get into specifics if you don’t want to.

Follow Up with Your Lawyer

Don’t panic if you can’t confirm that your paperwork has been filed yet. Reach back out to your lawyer and let them know you are still waiting for confirmation that it was submitted. Politely ask for a timeline of when they expect to file if they have not done so already. Most delays are procedural – you just need to communicate with your lawyer to understand what is happening.

Going through a divorce is never easy, but finding out the status of your filing does not have to be a mystery. Just reach out to your lawyer, check public records, and follow up on any paperwork you receive. With a few simple steps, you can confirm if your case is underway or not. The key is staying in touch with your attorney and being persistent if you can’t get clear answers right away. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – getting answers can help put your mind at ease.

Frequently Asked Questions About Checking Your Divorce Filing Status

Q: How long after filing will my divorce paperwork show up online?

A: It usually takes 2-7 business days for newly filed cases to appear in online court records. Check a week after your lawyer says they submitted the paperwork.

Q: What if I can’t find my case records online?

A: Not all courts have easily searchable online databases. If you can’t find your case online, call the courthouse clerk directly. They can check the system for you.

Q: Is it a bad sign if my lawyer won’t confirm they filed the paperwork?

A: Not necessarily. Reach out again clearly stating you want written confirmation of the filing date. Follow up regularly until you get confirmation.

Q: What if I can’t reach my lawyer at all?

A: If your lawyer is non-responsive, contact your state bar association and file a complaint. You can then work on finding a new lawyer to take over your divorce case.

Q: What happens if my paperwork was never filed?

A: If your lawyer failed to file as they said they would, you may have grounds for a malpractice suit. Consult with another divorce attorney about your options in this scenario.

Q: How do I get copies of my filed divorce paperwork?

A: You can request copies directly from the court clerk, or ask your lawyer to provide you with filed copies including the stamped court seal showing the case is active.

Q: Why does my spouse say they haven’t been served yet?

A: Service of process can take a while after filing. Follow up with your lawyer to check the status of serving your spouse the divorce petition.

Q: What if I can’t reach my spouse at all?

A: You can ask the court for permission to “serve by publication” posting notices in newspapers. Your lawyer will know the process to make this request.

Q: How can I change lawyers if I’m unhappy with mine?

A: You’ll need to formally terminate your contract with your current lawyer. Then hire a new one and have them file an appearance in your case.

Checking on your divorce filing status is an important part of staying informed in your case. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your attorney and the court to get the answers you need. With a few simple steps, you can confirm your paperwork is progressing as expected.

How to Serve Divorce Papers

Serving divorce papers is the process of formally delivering your filed divorce documents to your spouse. This is a required procedural step, and your divorce cannot proceed until your spouse is properly served. Here are some common ways to serve divorce papers:

Hire a Process Server

You can hire a professional process serving company to deliver the papers. Process servers are licensed by the state and know all the proper procedures. They will deliver the papers in person and provide documentation showing service was completed. This tends to be the easiest legal way to serve papers.

Sheriff’s Department

Another option is to pay your local sheriff’s department or marshal’s office to personally serve your spouse. Like process servers, the sheriff’s department will give you documentation verifying service. This may be cheaper than a process server.

Certified Mail

If you want to serve papers without face-to-face contact, you can use certified mail requiring a return receipt showing delivery to your spouse. Be sure to get the green return receipt card back for your records.

Acceptance of Service

Some spouses are willing to sign an Acceptance of Service document agreeing that service is valid without formal delivery. If you think your spouse will agree, your lawyer can draft this document.

Service by Publication

If you absolutely cannot locate your spouse, the court may authorize service by publication in a local newspaper. Talk to your lawyer if you need to explore this option.

Ask a Friend

In some states, you can have a friend personally deliver the papers for you. Requirements vary, so check your state laws to see if this is an option. The friend must be 18+ and not involved in the case.

Be sure to follow all legal requirements when arranging for service of your divorce paperwork. Valid service is required for your divorce to proceed, so work with your lawyer to get it done properly.

How to Respond to Divorce Papers

If you have been served with divorce papers that your spouse filed, you have limited time to respond appropriately. Here is what you need to know:

Carefully Review All Documents

Read through every document you received thoroughly. Make sure you understand what your spouse is requesting related to asset division, alimony, child custody, and other matters. Know your rights and obligations.

Note Any Deadlines

The divorce paperwork will indicate how much time you have to file a response with the court. Mark your calendar so you know when your response is due without fail.

Speak with a Lawyer

You should consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible after being served. They can advise you on the best legal strategy for responding. Discuss your options.

Draft a Response

With your lawyer’s assistance, draft your written legal response, either objecting to the divorce petition or accepting it. This is usually called the Answer and Counterclaim. File and serve it before the deadline.

Request Changes

If you want different divorce terms than what your spouse proposed, make those clear in your response paperwork. Now is the time to ask for what you want.

Gather Evidence

Start pulling together documentation that supports your side of the case related to financial records, marital assets, parenting responsibilities, and other relevant evidence.

Attend Mediation

If the issues are simple, you may be able to come to mutual agreements through mediation sessions rather than going to court. Discuss options for mediation with your lawyer.

Prepare for Trial

If you are not able to settle agreements through mediation, your case may go to trial. Your lawyer will help you gather evidence and testimony to present in court.

Don’t ignore divorce paperwork you receive. With your lawyer’s guidance, file a timely and thorough response to protect your rights and move the process forward.

How to Check If You Are Divorced

If you have been separated from your spouse for a long time, you may want to check your official marital status and make sure your divorce was actually finalized. Here are some ways to find out if you are officially divorced:

Review Your Paperwork

Pull out your divorce paperwork and read through to confirm it shows a final judgment granting the divorce. If you can’t find the paperwork, request copies from the court.

Verify with Your Lawyer

Reach out to the lawyer who handled your divorce and ask them to confirm in writing that the divorce was 100% finalized. Have them send you copies if needed.

Check Online Records

Search online court records for your county and see if your divorce case shows a final disposition. This will usually be marked as “dissolution granted.”

Call the Court Clerk

Contact the clerk at the courthouse where your divorce was filed and ask them to check the official records about the status of your case.

Search your local newspaper’s archives for legal notices about your divorce case. Final divorce decrees are required to be published in some states.

Request an Official Certificate

Visit or call your county records office and ask for a divorce certificate, which serves as legal proof your divorce is complete.

Check Your Credit Report

Request copies of your credit reports, which will show all of your credit accounts and your payment history. Checking your credit reports allows you to:

  • Verify your personal information is correct
  • Check for any accounts opened fraudulently in your name
  • Review your payment history on each account
  • Confirm your accounts are being reported accurately
  • Look for any negative items that need to be disputed
  • See what lenders view when you apply for credit

You can get free credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) annually at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also purchase credit reports directly from the bureaus to check more frequently.

Reviewing your credit reports regularly is important to ensure the information is up-to-date and catch any potential errors. This helps you maintain good credit and monitor for fraud.

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