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.

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.

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.

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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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Is it Possible for a Husband to Divorce His Wife Without Her Knowing it in the State of Virginia?
 

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How to Contest a Divorce in the State of Michigan

If your spouse filed for divorce in the state of Michigan, you cannot contest the divorce itself as Michigan, like all other states, recognizes no-fault divorces. However, if there are issues of child custody, property division or alimony you want to contest, you can. To do so, you must act within 21 days of receiving service of the divorce petition. If you do not act within that time, your spouse might be eligible for a default judgment.

How to File for Divorce in Wayne County, Michigan

Michigan is one of 14 pure no-fault divorce states. This means that the only ground for divorce is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Most states allow an individual to file for divorce under no-fault grounds, but if the non-filing party contests the divorce, the party seeking the divorce must prove that there are grounds for the divorce under state law. Grounds for divorce vary from state to state. Divorce in Michigan can be finalized within six months provided a property settlement is achieved. The process for obtaining a divorce varies slightly if there are children involved in the marriage.

What if Your Spouse Refuses to Be Served Divorce Papers in NY State?

If you are seeking a divorce in the state of New York and your spouse refuses to receive the papers, you may still obtain a divorce. Despite a refusal to accept papers, there are methods by which divorce papers can be served that eliminate the need for acceptance. As such, service will be effected and the divorce can proceed.

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