Can a Divorce Be Contested If Not Properly Served?

By Teo Spengler

For a court to have jurisdiction over a person who is sued, the law requires that the person receive notice of the lawsuit, called service of process. If you find that your spouse was awarded a divorce but you were never served with process, you can contest the divorce.

For a court to have jurisdiction over a person who is sued, the law requires that the person receive notice of the lawsuit, called service of process. If you find that your spouse was awarded a divorce but you were never served with process, you can contest the divorce.

Notice to the Defendant Spouse

A family law judge does not have legal authority to enter an order terminating your marriage, if you were not given notice of the action. This restriction ensures that both spouses have a chance to appear and present their version of the facts of the case before the marriage is dissolved, permanent child custody is awarded and finances are divided.

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About the Service of Process

Notice of a lawsuit involves more than simply hearing about it; generally, service of process rules require that the summons, petition or complaint has been delivered into your hands, and this is called personal service. If it can be shown that various attempts were made to serve you personally, the court may allow a different type of service such as leaving the documents with your boss at work or with an adult who lives with you. If your spouse in unable to locate you, the court may authorize service of process by publication in a local newspaper.

Contesting the Divorce

You can determine which type of service was used in the divorce case by looking in the court file for the proof of service of process. If you establish that you were not served process appropriately under the rules of your jurisdiction, you can ask the court to set aside the divorce judgment. The type of motion or procedure you need to bring varies among the states, and you may want to seek assistance from an attorney.

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Can a Person Get Divorced Here in the Unites States if His Wife Is in Mexico?

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When Did No-Fault Divorce Become Legal in North Dakota?

North Dakota passed a law in 1971 that allowed couples to divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences. The law provides that such differences are reason enough for a court to decide that a marriage should be dissolved. Even though the law doesn't actually use the term "no-fault," the North Dakota Supreme Court made it clear in 1978 that a divorce action based on irreconcilable differences is one that sidesteps accusations of wrongdoing, so courts do not need to address fault.

How to Serve a Respondent Divorce Papers in California

In divorce proceedings, one spouse petitions the court for a divorce and the other spouse responds to the petition. The spouse who files for divorce becomes the petitioner and the other spouse becomes the respondent. The filing spouse must notify the other spouse of the pending divorce action, provide him with a copy of the documents filed with the court and allow him 30 days to respond. The formal notification process is called service of process. Court rules for service of process vary from state to state. In California, service can come in various forms: personal service, service by mail or substituted service. Courts require the petitioner to provide proof of service in order to continue the proceedings.

The Inability to Serve Divorce Papers in Texas

It's frustrating when the respondent in a lawsuit is dodging process, especially in a divorce case. Ordinarily, a divorce petition is served by hand-delivering it to the respondent. But the case can proceed even when the respondent is avoiding service of process. A petitioner can serve the respondent by having the process server tape the divorce petition to the respondent's front door, or by publishing a notice of the divorce suit in a local newspaper, with the permission of the court.

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