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Ways to Serve Divorce Papers to Your Spouse


Divorces are rarely simple or easy matters, and the first step in securing your divorce is often a difficult one: serving your soon-to-be ex-spouse divorce papers. After filing the necessary paperwork with the court to begin your case, the next step is serving your spouse a copy of the divorce paperwork. It’s vital to follow the appropriate steps for serving your spouse divorce papers, as doing so officially notifies him or her of the pending legal case and gives him or her the opportunity to respond.

There are several ways you can handle serving your spouse divorce papers. There is no best method, and some spouses will be agreeable to a divorce while others may contest it vehemently. It’s up to you to decide the best method for serving your spouse the required documentation. Consider your options for serving your spouse with divorce papers and choose whatever fits best in your situation.

Professional Delivery

It’s important to note that you cannot serve your spouse divorce papers personally. You may ask a relative over the age of 18 to handle the serving of papers, or you can employ a professional process server to handle the delivery. If you decide to have a professional process server deliver the divorce papers to your spouse, the server will need to officially document the delivery with the date, time, and place your spouse received the papers. Your spouse will need to sign this document. The process server will file this confirmation document with the court as evidence your spouse received the divorce papers.

Service by Mail

You can mail your spouse the divorce papers by Certified Mail or other mail carrier service that requires signature confirmation. If you mail your spouse divorce papers by First Class Mail, he or she will need to sign for the package. Certified Mail will require him or her to sign and send in a return receipt for the package.

Delivery to a Roommate

If your spouse lives with someone else, you can have the divorce papers delivered to the residence and given to a roommate or relative living in the same residence. You will need to provide the court with proof that the person who received the divorce papers in fact lives with your spouse.

Public Delivery

If you have not succeeded in serving your spouse divorce papers at home, you are also allowed to attempt to serve them at your spouse’s place of employment, at a public location, or even on the street or in a coffee shop. However, you cannot leave divorce papers with a receptionist, secretary, or coworker at your spouse’s place of employment.

Published Notice of Divorce

If you cannot physically locate your spouse and all other attempts to serve him or her with divorce papers have proven fruitless, your last resort is a publication in a newspaper. The court must grant you special permission to do so and will typically require proof that other delivery methods have failed. Once you secure permission to do so, you can publish the divorce notification in a newspaper for a specified amount of time. You will need to provide the court with proof of publication as well as proof of how long the notice ran in the newspaper.

Divorce is a difficult subject, but it is one of the most common filings in the United States. If you are uncertain about any aspect of the process, a reliable family law attorney will be an excellent resource. The judge reviewing your case may also grant you special permissions depending on unique factors in your situation, such as an abusive or incarcerated partner. It’s also wise to work with an attorney throughout your divorce proceedings so you can reach a mutually agreeable divorce settlement with your ex-spouse.

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