Do Divorce Papers Have to Be Served?

We sought some answers to help us understand the early stages of a divorce by talking to BTR Law Firm about divorce papers.  Specifically, do these papers have to be delivered by a process server in the same manner as other court notices?

filing-divorce-papersIf you have filed for divorce, then you do have a limited window in which to serve those papers to your spouse. That means the papers have to be handed to them to sign. Whether they sign them or not does not matter as far as that window is concerned.

The law allows you 60 days to serve the papers to your spouse. Not everyone wants to serve the papers right away, because they may be hesitant to tell their spouse about the divorce proceedings, if the spouse has been left out of them. That’s typically why it would take someone more than a few days to serve such papers.

If one spouse wants to stay married but the other does not, then serving the papers can cause conflict and an uncomfortable situation for both spouses. This generous window is provided to allow both parties to find a time that’s agreeable and convenient for the papers to be served.

You can serve the papers either by hand or through certified mail with a return receipt. Either way allows you to know that they have been delivered successfully and provides proof that the courts may need in order to show the papers were served and that the other spouse was made aware of the divorce proceedings.

You don’t have to hand the papers personally to your spouse, and in fact, you are not legally allowed to hand your spouse the papers. You actually have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a delivery person, as anyone who is 18 years or older can deliver them. They need to be delivered by hand, if they are being personally delivered.

The papers need to be delivered directly to your spouse or to someone who lives with them and who you would be able to swear to the judge that you believe they live with them. That other person must be an adult, however.

There is another exception to the delivery rule when it comes to who you can have the papers delivered to. If your spouse has authorized someone to receive the papers on their behalf, then the law allows for them to pick up the papers for your spouse. This could be someone at their work, such as a receptionist or secretary or a close friend. Proof of their authority to receive the papers may need to be shown in court.

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