How to Serve Divorce Papers

By A.K. Jayne

In a divorce filing, papers filed with the court must be properly served on the other spouse. Examples of these papers include the Summons and Complaint and Notice of Appearance -- the typical documents filed in the beginning of a divorce action. While some specific rules for service may differ from state to state, you will typically have to select from one of several acceptable ways to serve divorce papers on your spouse.

Serving Divorce Papers by Acceptance of Service

Step 1

Hand-deliver the divorce papers to your spouse.

Step 2

Ask your spouse to sign the Acceptance of Service. This document serves as confirmation that the divorce papers were served, but does not mean that your spouse agrees to the terms you are seeking in your Complaint.

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Step 3

Return the Acceptance of Service to the court. It will then be filed with your divorce papers.

Serving Divorce Papers via Mail

Step 1

Send the divorce papers to your spouse by first-class mail with an Acknowledgment form. The Acknowledgment, once signed, serves the same purpose as the Acceptance of Service. Include a return envelope with sufficient postage for your spouse to return the Acknowledgment.

Step 2

Submit the Acknowledgment to the court. It is filed just as the Acceptance of Service would be if you served your spouse in person.

Step 3

Mail the divorce papers again via certified mail if your spouse does not return an Acknowledgment. Send the papers return receipt requested. You are also required to file an affidavit that explains that you have tried other methods and been unsuccessful.

Service Via a Third Party

Step 1

Hire a sheriff or process server to serve the divorce papers on your spouse. You can use the sheriff or a server in your county if your spouse lives there. If he lives in a different county, you will need to have a sheriff or server in that county serve the papers.

Step 2

Submit a set of the divorce papers to the sheriff or process server. Include an Affidavit of Service along with a return envelope and sufficient postage so that the sheriff or process server can mail the affidavit back to you for filing with the court.

Step 3

Pay the necessary service fees. The sheriff or process server will notify you as to the fees for service.

Serving Divorce Papers With a Publication Notice

Step 1

Ask the court to order service via publication. This is done in instances when all other methods of service have failed.

Step 2

Contact the newspaper where your spouse lives to place an ad. The publication notice must run in the paper for at least three consecutive weeks.

Step 3

Provide the court with a copy of the notice. In addition, include a statement from the newspaper verifying the date that the ad was placed.

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Is There a Public Notice for a Divorce in the State of Virginia?


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How to Obtain a Divorce in North Carolina

If you wish to obtain a divorce in North Carolina, you can hire an attorney to handle the process for you or you can file on your own. If you opt to represent yourself in divorce proceedings, you will be known as a "pro se" litigant. You file divorce papers in the North Carolina county where you reside. Because specific rules for filing can vary from county to county, North Carolina State University suggests that you contact your county's clerk of court before you proceed with a divorce action.

What if My Wife Doesn't Accept the Divorce Notice?

A husband filing for divorce must give notice of the legal proceeding to his wife. Generally, personal notice is required; however, if his wife does not accept the divorce notice, the divorce can still proceed. Courts allow other ways for the husband to satisfy the notification requirement, usually through alternate service. The same rules of service apply regardless of which spouse, husband or wife, is filing for divorce.

How Does a Spouse Get Served for a Divorce in Broward County?

After you file a divorce petition in Broward County, Florida, you must provide your spouse with a copy of the filed petition, referred to as service of process. If you do not properly serve your spouse with a copy of the divorce papers using the sheriff’s office or a private process server, and your spouse has not waived service, the judge can deny the divorce and dismiss your case. Therefore, following Florida's rules for service is very important.

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