The prospect of someone unexpectedly showing up at your doorstep, or worse at your place of employment, and saying “you’ve been served” can be upsetting to say the least. You may want to lash out, laugh, cry, or just lock yourself in a room after you’ve been served with an appearance notice or summons (though the latter will probably be the best option given anything you say or do can be used against you in court).
If you’ve been involved in a familial dispute and have been served a notice, the first thing to do is to stop and take a deep breath. Afterwards, read the tips given below to ensure that your actions don’t lead to unintended consequences.
1. Mind Your Words
When you’ve been handed the summons, you must mind what you say to others regarding the case. You should not write or say anything related to the case. In no event should you send a message or an email to anyone about the case, even if you trust that person completely. The reason is that he or she may be forced to reveal to the court anything that you said about the case.
Everything you say or write will ultimately end up in court, and may even be read by the presiding judge in court. The best course of action is to remain silent on the matter and not discuss your feeling or views related to the case with anyone other than your attorney.
2. Calmly Assess the Situation
Once you receive an appearance notice, you must calmly assess the situation and think about the best course of action. Make mental notes of the upcoming court dates and everything else that is important to the case. Take note of the allegations contained in the document calmly, while keeping in mind that they are only allegations and nothing more at this point. Think about why the person may have made the allegations and whether any of them are true or just false accusations.
3. Do Not Make Hasty Decisions
When you’ve been served a summons, you must avoid making hasty decisions. Remember that in most states you have a few weeks to respond to the petition or complaint. It’s advisable that you consult with a professional family attorney that fits your needs. A family lawyer can offer valuable advice and guide you through the system while ensuring that your interests are protected during the litigation process.
When hiring a professional litigation attorney, you should not focus on the fees of the attorney. It’s better to find out how successful the attorney has been in fighting for clients faced with similar predicaments. Selecting the best family attorney for your case will turn the odds in your favor.