Deciding to get a divorce is not always a mutual decision, and in situations where you will be responsible for delivering divorce papers, it can be quite tense. You will be faced with the task of healing your failed relationship, and you also have to focus on the procedural events surrounding the dissolution of your marriage.
As one of the most important parts of initiating divorce proceedings, you need to understand the different avenues for serving the papers. There are 3 main ways: delivering an Acceptance of Service, sending snail mail, or utilizing a third party.
1. Delivering an Acceptance of Service
The first way to ensure that your spouse receives your divorce papers is to hand-deliver them on your own. This method is typically recommended for people who have a civil relationship with their ex, and feel comfortable enough to personally deliver them.
The Acceptance of Service is a legal document. It proves that your spouse has received and accepted the divorce papers. However, it does not signify that your spouse agrees to the terms set out in the papers, just that they have received them.
Once it is signed, the paper will need to be submitted to the courts, which will be filed with your other supporting divorce documents.
2. Mailing the Divorce Papers
Another option is to mail the divorce papers, which can be a great route if you are not in a position where you can have a face-to-face meeting with your spouse. In the package you send, you will need to include an Acknowledgement Form, which is similar to an Acceptance of Service.
It is important that you include a return envelope with enough postage for your ex to return the signed Acknowledgement. Since you follow the same process as filing an Acceptance of Service, the Acknowledgement will be filed with the courts and submitted with your divorce papers.
We all like to assume that this process will be as simple as your spouse signing the papers and mailing them back. However, you may be dealing with a noncompliant partner, who is refusing to sign the form. If so, you do have options.
You can resend the papers via certified mail, and ensure that a return receipt is requested. However, you will need to obtain documented evidence that your attempts to serve the divorce papers were unsuccessful due to your spouse being noncompliant.
3. Utilizing a Third Party
There are solutions for individuals who feel unsafe or are concerned about delivering the papers on their own or through the mail. With the help of either a county sheriff or process server, you can have the papers delivered and accepted by your ex.
It is important to note that you will need to contact the sheriff of the county where your spouse lives, not your local county sheriff.
Prior to filing the signed paperwork, you will need to obtain an Affidavit of Service to submit to the sheriff’s office. You should also include a return envelope with sufficient postage. That way, the process server or sheriff can mail your divorce papers back to you, and you can prepare for any associated costs that will pertain to hiring a third party.
Choosing the right method of serving divorce papers is dependent on your personal situation. Regardless of how you and your spouse ended your relationship, there are steps you can take to make sure that you are protected.