Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide


How to serve divorce papers


How to serve divorce papers is a question that can be answered properly with some illustrated points. Serving the papers is a crucial step that starts the divorce process. One can fill out the divorce petition and all the related paperwork, even file them with the court, but nothing will happen unless there is proper service of process. The papers can be delivered personally to the other spouse, if both are on friendly terms, which is sometimes not possible. Luckily there are some other ways to serve the divorce papers which are listed below.

Serving the papers properly lets one’s spouse know that the papers have been filed at the court house to start the divorce process. It also lets him/her know about the questions being asked and the time they have to respond within.

For the divorce to proceed, the court will need proof that the other spouse was served with the divorce papers. If there is a lawyer handling one’s divorce then he/she will probably take care of all of this for him/her. Below is the description on how to serve divorce papers, if the spouse is doing all the paperwork on its own:

  1. Acceptance of service: The papers are personally delivered to a spouse, by someone over the age of 18. The spouse must sign and date the acceptance of the service paper to verify that the petition was actually received
  2. Mail, with acknowledgement: The papers can be mailed, along with an acknowledgement form that a spouse will need to sign, date and return. If the papers are not returned within the specified period, then one will need to use another method of service
  3. Certified mail, with return receipt: By serving the divorce papers through a certified mail, a spouse requires to sign a paper attached to the envelope when he/she receives the petition in the mail. After this return receipt is signed by the other spouse, it is mailed back to spouse who had sent it, and will serve as a proof of service.
  4. Personal service by sheriff or process server: one can hire a sheriff or a professional process server to deliver the papers. The person serving the papers will fill out the proof of service form, which will then be filed with the court
  5. By publication: After all the other methods fail, the court will allow service to be publicized. It involves announcing the divorce petition in a newspaper where the other spouse is likely to be living for a specified amount of time. The spouse who serves the paper needs to return a copy of the newspaper notice, with a statement for how long the notice ran, to the court for proof of service.

The points on how to serve divorce papers are best described above. Apart from this, the service of the divorce papers should be done in a very professional manner. By serving it in a professional way minimizes all the legal procedures that one might need to face if not served properly. All the hard work, like gathering all the documents, filing the petition will go in vain, if the papers are not served properly.


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