If you have been thinking about leaving your spouse, one of the very first things that needs to happen is that your spouse must be served with divorce papers indicating your legal intent to divorce. These documents must be served within a specific time requirement of action in order to give the respondent adequate time to make a response, if so desired. What does this mean, and how long does it take? These, and all of your divorce questions, can be answered by an experienced family law attorney.
Divorce Papers – What Documents are Served?
There are three documents that will be served:
- A family law summons;
- The actual petition for divorce;
- A response form.
Who Serves the Divorce Papers?
While many individuals rely on a professional process server to serve the divorce papers or the county sheriff to serve a summons, the law requires only that the server be 18 years of age or older and not be a party to the divorce action. That means friends, co-workers, and adult family members could all serve the divorce papers to your spouse.
How are Divorce Papers Served?
These documents may be served in one of several ways. The most common means are outlined below:
When a server hand-delivers the divorce papers to a respondent, it can take place in any location including the respondent’s home, place of work, in a restaurant, or simply on a street corner. A server may schedule delivery of the papers, or may simply serve divorce papers spring them on an unsuspecting individual. As soon as the divorce papers are received, they are officially considered to have been served. For this reason, personal service is widely viewed as the best choice in serving process, since receipt is easily confirmed by the server.
A server may send the documents to a respondent’s home, P.O. Box, or work address. In this case, the server must document the service with a proof of service form indicating when and to whom the papers were mailed, and the location from which they were mailed. This proof will be provided to the petitioner, who then must file it with the court. The respondent is considered to have been served five days after the documents have been mailed.
Service by Publication
In some situations, a spouse may not be able to be easily located. Then the court may allow for an ex parte application of the order. In this case, the summons must be published weekly for four consecutive weeks in an approved newspaper. In this instance, the service is complete after 28 days. Continue reading →