When a spouse files for divorce, the petitioning spouse is responsible for making sure the other spouse is served with the divorce papers. The spouse requesting or filing for divorce is usually referred to as the petitioner or the plaintiff and the non-filing spouse is normally referred to as the respondent or the defendant.
It is the responsibility of the petitioner to make sure that the respondent receives copies of all the divorce papers filed with the court. If the respondent spouse does not receive the proper papers in an adequate manner, the divorce proceedings will be disrupted and hindered. The petitioning spouse will have to file two sets of divorce papers, a Complaint and a Summons. The Complaint notifies family court of the intended petition for dissolution of marriage. The Complaint will include details of the marriage including reasons for divorce if any, information about any children in the marriage, and any essential information about the marriage. The Summons notifies the respondent spouse of the petition for dissolution of marriage and requests a response to the complaint.
The court cannot proceed with any actions on the petition for divorce until it has proof that respondent spouse has received a copy of the summons, the complaint, Notice of Appearance, and/or Notice of Hearing.
Divorce papers can include:
There are a number of ways that a petitioning spouse can provide proof that the respondent spouse has received the proper divorce papers. The petitioning spouse can hand deliver the divorce papers to the respondent spouse. In this case the petitioning spouse would have to get the receiving spouse's signature and date on an, "Acceptance of Service," notice that must be returned to the court. The divorce papers can also be served through first class or certified mail with a request for return receipt. If the divorce papers are served by mail, a, "Certificate of Acknowledgement," should be included with the divorce papers that must be returned to the court. A local sheriff, constable, or process server can also serve divorce papers.
A capable and experienced divorce attorney can help draw up the proper divorce papers and make sure that all the requirements of family court are met before the documents are served.