As you go through the uncontested divorce process different questions will surface at different stages. How do I serve my spouse is a common question once a person has decided they are going to file for an uncontested divorce.
Before serving your spouse with divorce papers, also known as a divorce petition or divorce summons, prepare the groundwork. Make sure you have had a conversation with him or her. Don't just spring divorce papers on your soon to be ex spouse. This method will not do you any favors when you go to negotiate your marital settlement agreement.
Make sure not to tell others, such as friends, before you break the news to your spouse. You wouldn't want to hear the news from someone else, give the same considerations to your wife or husband. Throwing more salt on a wound can easily turn your uncontested divorce into a contested divorce.
You will have to prove to the court that your spouse was served the divorce petition. There are a couple of ways to do this. An easy way to get this done is through your uncontested lawyer. By having your attorney serve your spouse you don't have to worry about an immediate reaction or possible argument at the time of service. In addition, your divorce lawyer will then make sure the proper verifications are filed with the court.
Another option is to do it yourself. There are a few different methods you can use to serve the divorce petition and get verification. The first one is to use U.S. first class mail. With this method you would send the divorce petition with an acknowledgement form. The acknowledgement form should have a place where your spouse not only signs the form, but also writes in the time and date.
In some circumstances, certified, restricted service U.S. mail is an option that doesn't require additional paperwork. You should consult with an attorney before trying this method. A certified receipt will be attached to the envelope and once your spouse signs the receipt it will be mailed back to you. You can then use the return certified receipt as proof of service. A easier method is to include an acceptance of service form in the mailing. Your spouse will then sign, date, and return it to you.
Hiring a sheriff is another way to serve the uncontested divorce petition to your spouse. You should get a proof of service form filled out by the person who delivered your divorce papers. This will then be filed in court.
When your spouse receives the divorce summons he or she will be notified of some factual information. Some of the information will include:
- Papers have been filed with the court;
- What he or she is being asked for; and
- How much time he or she has to respond.
Keep in mind no divorce decree can be granted without proper service. If you have been separated for more than two years and cannot locate your spouse you may petition the court to grant you an alternative way to service the papers. This could include placing advertisements in the newspaper.