Often, just when we think that we have things figured out, something unexpected occurs. And when it does, we find a way to deal with it.

That works fine when the surprise is an illness, traffic accident or job loss. In those instances, you can turn to your family and friends for support while you deal with the unanticipated event. If you are happily married then your spouse will listen to your surprise, anger, hurt and frustration. Your spouse, family and friends will typically all support you, and offer advice and encouragement as you work to manage what has happened. And with their support you might develop a plan for dealing with the unforeseen event, implement it, and make adjustments to your life plan, as it becomes necessary.


A New Situation

But, what if the unexpected surprise is a divorce? In that case, your spouse is “the enemy,” or at least, your adversary; therefore, they are not there to support you. When a divorce is underway, mutual friends often ally themselves with one spouse or the other; relatives align with their blood relative, over the in-law (their blood relative’s spouse). This is a different animal. Unlike those other surprises mentioned earlier, this surprise brings other changes with it. Dealing with this matter requires a different approach.

First Step

Once the initial shock and immediate reaction fades, try to regain your composure before you say or do anything in response to the surprise divorce. Many times a spouse’s initial reactions to being served with divorce papers has put the case moving in a certain direction, which is often different from the otherwise natural flow of the case.

Take, for example, the case of a wife having an extra-marital affair. She may eventually decide that she no longer wishes to remain married to her husband, and so she files for divorce and has her husband served with divorce papers. If the husband’s first reaction is to go on an angry rant—whether via text message, telephone call, or in-person—the case becomes about the husband’s anger, whether he needs counseling, whether he can be trusted to be alone with his own children, and, perhaps, whether the court should issue a Protective Order against the husband. This might show-up in his Background Check for the rest of his life. And guess what the case is not about: the wife’s adultery and betrayal. This is not what the husband wants the case to be about. So he would be wise to step back and compose himself before reacting to the case.

Second Step

Being, or becoming, organized is the first step in getting prepared for your case. And, as with so many other things in life, being prepared is 90% of the key to being successful. No matter how disorganized you might feel at this time, there are simple things that you can do to greatly increase your organization. In this article, there is a step-by-step guide to moving in this direction: “8 Steps to Take to Prepare for Divorce.”

Third Step

In all but the simplest cases, you would do well to at least consult with a skilled, experienced Family Lawyer. While there are online and offline guides to divorce available, representing yourself, and trying to spot all of the issues in a case by yourself, it is akin to trying to view architectural plans and build your own office building or home. Some can do that. Most of us would be better off allowing a professional to accomplish that feat. If you do not know of a trusted Family Lawyer, we suggest that you might want to look at these articles for guidance (“Tips for Selecting a Family Lawyer”) and (“How to Find a Divorce lawyer”).


Divorce is never easy. And when it comes as a surprise it can be even more startling and upsetting. Follow the pointers in this piece and you will be well on your way to successfully navigating potentially troubled waters.

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