Can the papers be given to someone other than my spouse, like my spouse's mother? The papers must be given to your spouse directly, not to someone else. There is an exception. The papers can be given to someone "of suitable age and discretion" who lives in the same home with your spouse.
You will have to be able to convince the judge that your spouse lives with this other person. If your spouse authorizes, in writing, someone else to accept the papers, then you can serve that person. Can the papers be given to someone at my spouse's job, like a receptionist or co-worker or boss? The only exception is if your spouse has authorized, in writing, someone else to accept the papers.
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Where can my spouse be given the papers? What if my spouse won't take the papers? If the person delivering the papers tries to hand them to your spouse but your spouse won't take them, it may be good enough to drop the papers at your spouse's feet, if the person delivering the papers can identify the person as your spouse and says to your spouse that these are court papers for a divorce. The judge will decide whether this is good enough.
What is "certified mail, return receipt"?
Certified mail means that the Post Office gives you a slip that proves that you mailed a letter. A "return receipt" is a green postcard that the Post Office attaches to the letter that the recipient must sign to show that he or she actually received the letter. The Post Office mails the green card back to you. Be sure you keep the certified mail slip and the green card.
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Who can mail the papers? You can mail the papers yourself. What address can I mail the papers to? Can the return receipt green card be signed by someone other than my spouse?
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The green card must be signed by your spouse. The green card can be signed by someone "of suitable age and discretion" who lives in the same home with your spouse. What if my spouse won't sign the return receipt green card and the mail comes back to me? How does service by regular mail and acknowledgement work?
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Your spouse must sign the acknowledgement in order for this to be valid service. Which way of serving the papers is better? How long do I have to serve the papers? You have 60 days from the day you file your divorce papers to serve your spouse.
If you are not able to serve within that time, you can request more time. You should request more time before the 60 days is up if you can. You can file a written request or, if you have your initial court hearing before the 60 days are up, you can ask the judge then.
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If you do not follow these procedures, your case may be dismissed and you will have to file a motion to vacate the dismissal or file a new case and start all over again. What do I do after I have served the papers on my spouse? This can be a complicated question because there are different residency requirements in different locations. The issue of what court should hear the divorce becomes even more complicated when there are children involved because the court where the kids have domicile is the one that should decide on custody.
Your attorney can help you to make sure you are filing your divorce paperwork with the appropriate court. Once you have filed the divorce papers, you need to serve your spouse formally with the notice of divorce. There are strict requirements for service of process to ensure that your spouse receives the papers, but you have a number of options to serve divorce papers to an out-of-state spouse. One option you have is to hire a process server in the area where your spouse lives, or to get help from local law enforcement where your spouse lives.
FAQs on how to serve divorce papers
There is a cost to this, but it ensures your spouse receives the papers and is properly notified so the divorce can move forward. You can also serve your spouse by mail, with proof of receipt signed by your spouse.
When all else fails, publishing notification in the newspaper may be an option- as can using social media if the judge allows it. You need help from a lawyer with experience handling divorces when the spouses live in different states and we are here to provide the advice and representation you require.
Call today to learn more. Gregory G. Brown is an Irvine, CA based business litigation attorney. A trial lawyer for over 30 years, he has spent hundreds of days as lead trial counsel in jury trials throughout California involving fraud, breach of contract, shareholder disputes, breach of fiduciary duty and many other issues.