This is is a very common question that I get when clients consult with me regarding a divorce, child custody case or other family law matter. Of course, filing a divorce or custody matter is a very significant event in your life and most people feel that they should tell the other party that they are going to file a lawsuit. My general advice to most of my clients is not to tell the other party. The reason for this is:
The other party starts changing their behavior like closing bank accounts, starting situations that may result in domestic violence situations, wanting more time with the children, etc.
It results in additional fighting, arguments and general discord in the family; These fights typically go nowhere other than nonsensical arguments about issues that my not be relevant to the resolution of the case.
The other party may attempt to hide and avoid service of process to delay the action while they move assets or actually take off with the children to another state.
We have had several cases lately where exactly these types of behaviors have occurred. The results have been additional time and expense to the client in either locating the other party for service of process, domestic violence injunctions filed by the other party to get an upper hand in the proceeding or the actual waste and dissipation of marital assets. Another important point to remember is that once a family law case is filed in the 19th Judicial Circuit, the court usually enters what is called a Standing Temporary Domestic Relations Order that is supposed to prevent this type of behavior. It goes into effect on the Petitioner once the case is filed. It goes into effect on the Respondent, once they have been served. Thus, filing the case and getting it served on the other party is of paramount importance.
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