Serving Divorce Papers—What You Need To Know
Serving divorce papers to your spouse can be emotionally draining and hard to understand at first. DoNotPay is here to clear out any confusion and help you speed up the process.
Our article will show you all the methods of serving divorce papers and how to do it in the least painful way possible.
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Even in an uncontested divorce, informing your spouse about the process is mandatory. You are obliged to deliver copies of all divorce forms to the other party (the defendant).
This is called the service of process. The court isn’t responsible for handling the papers, so you need to make sure your spouse gets served.
If the divorce papers aren’t served in time, your case will be dismissed, and you’ll need to file a new case and start from scratch.
The documents need to be served to your spouse within 12 days after filing the complaint. In case you can’t make it on time, you can ask the court to extend your deadline. To do it, you will need to:
- Fill out the forms for the extension of serving papers
- File the declaration with the court
- Submit the order to the judge
In some states, you can serve the divorce papers yourself only if your spouse has waived formal service. You’ll need to give the defendant copies of the required documents, a notice, and a waiver.
If you’re located in a state that doesn’t allow you to serve the divorce papers personally, they’ll need to be delivered by someone who is a ‘disinterested person.’ They need to be:
- A party who is not involved in the case
- Someone who doesn’t care about the outcome of the divorce
- A person who is at least 18 years old
For example, you can hire your sheriff or pay for a private process service to serve your documents.
Whoever you choose to be a process server needs to deliver the documents to the defendant in person. The location of the serving isn’t important as the defendant can receive the documents anywhere.
The process server needs to complete an Affidavit of Service, which will state:
- The date and location of serving
- The documents that were served
The affidavit needs to be shown to the court as evidence that your spouse was rightfully served.
If your spouse lives out of the state, the papers will need to be served by sending a copy of the documents to that party by first-class mail. Prepaid postage and a return receipt will also need to be included. The process server needs to complete a Proof of Service that will indicate the method they used to serve the papers.
States have different regulations when it comes to filing and serving divorce forms. To see the different rules across the U.S. locations, check out the table below:
In case you can’t locate your spouse or they’re evading service, you will need to either:
- Request alternate service—Ask the judge to serve the divorce papers via alternate means, including email, social media, etc.
- Request publication—If you’ve tried everything in your power to find your spouse, you can ask the court for permission to publish a notice of the divorce in the newspaper or post a notice in the courthouse
Serving divorce papers isn’t the only tough part of the process. Writing a divorce settlement for a friendly divorce can also cause a headache. The lawyer fees can be expensive, and the procedure can take some time.
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Check out DoNotPay’s learning base of divorce-related articles, such as:
- What is mediation in divorce?
- What are uncontested divorce papers?
- Is it possible to get a divorce without hiring a lawyer?
- How does an out-of-court settlement work?
- Do you need a divorce lawyer if you agree on everything with your spouse?
- What's an online divorce?
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