Proper Service Of Divorce Papers, And Why It's Important

Posted on: 21 August 2019

When you file for a divorce, you must serve your spouse with the divorce papers in a legally acceptable manner. Below is an overview of the various forms of proper service for divorce papers, and why you should care about them.

Proper Service Options

Here are the main ways through which you can serve your partner with divorce papers.

Hand Delivery

In many states, you can't serve your spouse with divorce papers directly; you have to go through a third party.  However, some states will allow you to serve the papers directly if your spouse waives formal service, and they must do so in writing (there is a form to fill). Your spouse also needs to sign a form acknowledging receipt of the divorce papers.


Most divorce papers are served via third parties. The third-party should be an adult that is not part of the divorce process, such as a friend or a co-worker. You can also use a professional process server for a small fee. Your spouse also has to sign for the papers as confirmation of proper service.


It is also possible to serve your spouse via mail. The mail should include a return envelope with postage paid; that allows your spouse to sign the acceptance form and return it to you as proof of service.


Divorce service by publication is only acceptable if all the other methods have failed. You will need to provide the court with proof, such as direct mail sent to your spouse, that the other processes have failed. 

The Significance of Proper Service

Properly serving your spouse with divorce papers is important; improper service can affect the divorce. Below are some of the things to expect if you don't serve your partner properly.

Divorce Process Delay

Your divorce process will not start until you serve your partner properly. Therefore, improper service will only delay the divorce.

Loss of First-Filing Advantages

If you don't serve your partner properly, they may beat you to the punch and serve you with their own divorce papers. This may deny you some of the benefits that come with being the first to file for divorce. For example, if you had the choice of multiple jurisdictions, your partner might choose a jurisdiction that favors their wants.

Hopefully, you won't make any mistake with your divorce service. It's also a good idea to consult a family lawyer to help you with the entire divorce process.