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Who can serve the divorce papers?7 Nov 2016

When you choose to divorce your spouse, there is a legal process that must be followed. After completing the initial paperwork, your spouse must be served with the papers. This is part of the legal process but it can be a bit tricky. Below is an overview of who can serve divorce papers to your spouse and how the entire process works.

Initiating A Divorce

To initiate your divorce, you must first go to the court house in the county where you live and file the appropriate paperwork. In this paperwork, you are petitioning the court for a divorce from your spouse. Once the paperwork is filed, your spouse must be served with the papers. This gives the responding spouse notification that the divorce process is in motion and gives them a chance to respond to the petition. There are strict rules regarding who can serve divorce papers to your spouse. You cannot personally serve your spouse with the divorce petition. You may:

  • Send The Petition Via Certified Mail With Return Receipt Requested
  • Have The Papers Hand Delivered

If you send the divorce papers via certified mail, you must obtain the return receipt to prove to the judge your spouse signed for the papers. Your spouse must be the one to sign the return receipt for the service to be valid. An exception may be made if someone of suitable age who lives in the home with your spouse signs for the papers. For the service to be valid, this person must live in the home full-time.

Divorce papers may also be delivered by hand to your spouse. These documents must be given to your spouse by someone other than yourself for the service to be valid. Anyone other than your child, who is over 18 years old can hand deliver divorce papers to your spouse. A family friend or a family member can deliver these papers in person. Divorce papers must be handed directly to your spouse, not to a family member or friend. Failure to follow this rule will result in additional paperwork and a proper service. An exception to this rule may be made if the papers are given to an adult in the home where your spouse lives. However, you must be able to prove the person who accepted the papers actually lives inside the home with your spouse.

Can I Serve My Spouse At Work?

You may have your spouse served at their place of employment by someone other than yourself. However, your spouse must personally receive the papers. It will not be valid if the documents are handed to a receptionist or a supervisor.

What If My Spouse Won’t Accept The Paperwork?

It is often difficult to serve your spouse with divorce papers. If the person serving the papers sees your spouse in person, the papers can be left at their feet or nearby. In situations where no one will come to the door, the service must be attempted again.

You Can Hire A Professional

It is the job of professional process servers to serve legal documents to people who are a party to a lawsuit. While it may be a bit more expensive, hiring a professional to serve your spouse with divorce papers may save you time and money in the long run. These professionals are skilled at locating people and presenting them with the necessary paperwork so you can move ahead with your divorce.

If you are going through a divorce, it may help to speak with a lawyer with family law experience. Hiring a lawyer to draw up your divorce petition and having the papers served can lessen the anxiety that goes along with divorce cases.

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