How To Serve Divorce Papers
- August 04, 2011
- by ServeNow Staff
The decision to get a divorce comes with a whole host of complex emotions so serving divorce papers shouldn’t be an added burden. Hiring a professional process server to take care of the service for you can simplify the process and take the frustration of initiating the dissolution of marriage out of your hands.
How to Serve
A divorce petition, or dissolution petition, is the initial paperwork filed and served to begin the divorce process. This petition, also known as a summons, outlines the marriage, defines what is being asked for in the divorce, and states the reason a divorce is being sought.
Depending on the state in which the divorce is filed the petition typically includes a marriage license, birth certificates of spouses and children, if any, and financial statements including tax returns, investment and bank statements, and property and vehicle registrations.
Once you officially file for divorce with the court and obtain all the necessary paperwork, a copy of the divorce papers including the summons, complaint, and any other relevant documents must be served to your spouse. Keep the originals of these documents as they will be returned to the court after service. The responsibility to get these papers served lands entirely on you and they must be served within 120 days after you file the complaint.
Who can Serve Divorce Papers
There are options when it comes to serving your divorce papers. Though you cannot serve your own divorce papers, sometimes mailing the legal paperwork with certified mail can constitute an effective service of process. However, mailing paperwork requires a return of acknowledgment. This may be difficult to get should the receiving spouse be attempting to avoid divorce.
In most cases, a professional process server provides the best chance of accurate and fast service since they often deal with evasive and difficult individuals firsthand. They are also familiar with all the laws associated with service of process so they are more likely to get service done the right way the first time.
Remember to find a process server from the county in which your spouse lives, not your own county. To prove that the service was completed successfully, a process server will fill out an affidavit of service. This document is an official and notarized testimony detailing the date, time, and manner in which the document was served. You will later file the affidavit with the court and your spouse will be considered effectively served.
Why hire a process server to serve divorce papers?
It matters who serves your divorce papers. With strict guidelines that vary from state to state and very limited options for having your divorce petition served, a process server can save you time, frustration, and conflict in initiating the legal process. Unlike other options that rely on your spouse’s signature and willingness to comply, a process server ensures a quick delivery and will provide an affidavit of service to prove service.
Process servers are also trained in handling situations where the person being served may be disgruntled, uncooperative, or difficult to locate, and have experience serving papers in which sensitive matters including finances, assets, and children are involved.
With the legal process relying on your petition being served, trusting your paperwork in the hands of a professional process server is the fastest and easiest way to begin the legal divorce process.