Serving divorce papers is important in the process of getting a divorce. The divorce will not proceed unless the divorce papers are served, usually in the court where the filing spouse currently resides. Usually, your divorce lawyer should be the one who will make sure that the divorce papers are served, but if you opt to do it yourself, here are your options:
- Hand-deliver it personally - This is where you go to your spouse yourself and hand-deliver the papers for him/her to sign. You should also ask your spouse to sign the Acceptance of Service paper, which proves that he/she received and signed the documents.
- Certified mail - You can also use certified mail, provided that your spouse sign the receipt that comes with the mail, which will then be mailed back to you. Again, if you don't get the receipt back or nobody receives the mail you sent, you have to find another means to serve the papers.
- First-class mail - You can use first class mail provided it has an enclosed acknowledgement which your spouse has to sign, date, and return. If you tried this and didn't get the acknowledgement back, you should find another way to serve divorce papers.
- By a process server - You can hire a third-party process server or a sheriff to serve the divorce papers for you. They can ask your spouse to sign the service form and give this back to you as proof that you were able to serve the divorce papers.
- By publishing it on a newspaper - In cases where all efforts to serve divorce papers have been exhausted, one can ask the court for permission to publish the notice for divorce in a publication of their choice, usually one that's in the state where your spouse is living. The publication will run for a specified time period. After which, you will give the court a copy of the published notices and a written statement of how long the notices ran on the paper as proof of service. This is usually applicable for people who do not know where to reach their spouse, or in cases of spousal abandonment where the abandoned spouse has no idea how to reach his or her spouse.
Read more Divorce FAQs here.