Have you ever been pulled over for a traffic violation and written a ticket? If so, you probably received postcard mailers from traffic attorneys advertising their services to you. Divorce attorneys can send advertising mailers, too. There are automated software programs that search for new filings with the Clerk of Court, and attorneys can use this information to acquire new leads for legal representation. They use the personal data available to them to target prospects with mailed advertisements.
Divorce Attorney Mailers
These prospecting and advertising opportunities are available to divorce attorneys in the very same way. The Florida Bar governs how attorneys advertise, including mailers. Unfortunately, currently, no rule prohibits law firms from sending mailers to opposing parties in a divorce … even if they have not yet been served. This creates the danger that parties could be notified of a divorce, paternity, or other family lawsuits by way of an advertisement from a local law firm, rather than by regular service. If you are considering filing for divorce, you need to stop and be aware of this possibility, and be prepared that your spouse may receive a mailing like this.
“Unfortunately, currently, no rule prohibits law firms from sending mailers to opposing parties in a divorce … even if they have not yet been served.”
Risks of Premature Notification
Insensitive notification is sometimes not the only problem this can cause. In family cases where there is domestic violence or even a risk of it, premature notification can put a party in harm’s way. Sometimes there is a risk of the other spouse depleting assets. In some counties, the other spouse is served with a “standing order” in addition to the Petition. This usually includes mandates legally prohibiting either party from cutting off the other financially and prohibiting them from hiding, selling, or disposing of assets. However, these orders typically do not apply to a party until they are formally served. If a spouse is notified prematurely via an advertisement that a divorce has been filed against them, and the standing order has not yet been served, they could drain bank accounts, hide assets, or otherwise try to evade the family court.
“In family cases where there is domestic violence or even a risk of it, premature notification can put a party in harm’s way.”
When preparing to file any family law matter, it is important to understand the risks surrounding advertising and unintended notification. Divorce attorneys can send advertising mailers to your spouse before you’ve had a chance to notify them, or they’ve been served. It is recommended that you discuss this possibility with your attorney and strategically approach how and when you file or notify the other party. If you are a survivor of domestic violence or if there is a risk of domestic violence, you should create a safety plan before taking any action. There are many great resources in the Central Florida area to assist.