Divorce Guide

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What is the difference between serving divorce papers and filing for a divorce ?


There is a difference between serving divorce papers and filing for a divorce. The first step in divorce process is the filing for divorce. The following article informs you about serving divorce papers and filing for a divorce.

Serving divorce papers:

When divorce papers are served, they are officially given to the spouse. The court is made aware that the spouse is aware of the divorce.

Filing for a divorce:

Ground work to file a divorce:
  1. You should make sure that you have all the paper work regarding business and personal things. Collect these before you file for a divorce. It includes things like the mortgage deed or contract, papers of possession of house you live in, papers of debt. You must have all the financial records of your self and your spouse.
  2. Check accounts, retirement plan paperwork, etc should also be checked and make a file of all these papers.
  3. You should decide how you want t split things beforehand. You should take decisions for child custody, child support and alimony.

Actual filing for a divorce:

  1. Once this is done, you can file for a divorce. You can file for a divorce with or without an attorney. It is advisable that you at least consult an attorney before filing for divorce. Divorce laws differ from state to state and an attorney will help you in filing the paperwork.
  2. You should keep a track of your financial transactions done during filing for a divorce. Any promises made by a spouse should be included in the divorce decree.
  3. Note the timings and dates of the conversations and see your attorney before signing anything to understand the things you are signing.
  4. It will help if you have no children and few possessions and are amiable with your spouse. This will simplify the things while you file for a divorce.

Serving divorce papers:

Serving divorce papers is a difficult job. You will need to have some papers to file in the court before you serve the divorce papers. Divorce papers served to your spouse informs them that you have filed for the divorce. So serving divorce papers is the first and important step in the divorce process.

  1. You can have a friend help deliver the divorce papers and get them signed the affidavit of service. This friend who can help you should be above 18 years. Your child cannot serve the divorce papers even if he/she is above 18.
  2. You can serve divorce papers through a certified US mail. This can be done when you have the current address of your spouse. You will have to pay a nominal fee and the mail carrier will carry the papers to the door and have the addressee sign a detachable card as acknowledgement. This card will be a proof of service and can be used if the need arises.
  3. You can hire the services of a professional to serve the papers. They may be expensive but they know all the rules of service and are very helpful. You can hire the county sheriff to serve the divorce papers.
  4. If you cannot locate your spouse to accept the service, you can opt for service by publication. In such cases, the court will enter default and allow you to proceed with the divorce on your terms. Before doing this, the court will want you to publish the divorce notice in the local news papers of your spouses last known residence for a certain period of time, usually 2-3 weeks. This kind of notice serves as final fair warning to the spouse before the default is entered.
  5. Many a times, person who suspects about the service may avoid the process of certified mail by simply refusing to sign the acknowledgement. They can also create problems by wrongly signing it. In such cases, it is wise to hire the services of professional process server.
  6. The person who is addressed in the process may refuse to take the papers. In such case, the document may be left at the feet of the concern person. This is counted as valid service. You can also leave the document with the room mate or a relative that stays in the same home and this person can sign the affidavit of service. You just cannot leave the papers at the doorstep as this is not considered valid service.


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