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What if he didn’t receive the notification of service by mail?

Serving your spouse with divorce papers can sometimes be a daunting task. However, in order for you to move forward, your spouse must be served with the divorce complaint, which details the intimacies of your marriage and what is wanted in the divorce. The divorce complaint informs your spouse that papers have been filed and that you are ready to begin the divorce process. The time afforded your spouse to respond to the complaint depends upon your state. Generally, your spouse has between 30 and 60 days to register a response.

There are different ways in which to serve divorce papers. They may be served in the following manners:

• Personally
• First class mail
• Certified mail
• Sheriff or process server

Your spouse can be personally served by anyone over the age of 18. This method just requires that your spouse sign and date the Acceptance of Service paper, which validates that your spouse actually received the divorce complaint.

Divorce papers can also be delivered by mail. However, mail an acknowledgement form with them. Your spouse just needs to sign, date and return it within the stipulated timeframe. If you do not receive a response, then you must try another method of service.

Delivering the divorce complaint via certified mail is a straightforward method. A piece of paper called the “return receipt” is attached to the envelope. Your spouse just needs to sign it. Then, it is mailed back to you. This serves as your proof of service.

Having the divorce papers hand-delivered by a sheriff or process server is a more professional way of serving your spouse. That individual will complete a proof of service form and file it with the Court.

For whatever reasons, some spouses will intentionally evade being served with divorce papers. Of course, not being able to serve your spouse only prolongs the divorce process. If the above-mentioned methods of service have failed to produce your spouse, then there is one other measure that can be taken. You can request a default divorce, which is also known as a divorce by publication. Since all other methods of service have failed, then you can ask the Court for the divorce complaint to be made via publication. This means that the divorce complaint will be announced in a newspaper or posted in the courthouse. A Motion to Serve by Publication or Posting should be filed only after you have thoroughly exhausted all avenues of locating your spouse. Document all the steps you took prior to arriving at this point. You must be diligent in locating your spouse. The Court will want to see exactly what types of efforts you made in locating your spouse. Such types of efforts include the following:

• State when and where you last saw your spouse
• Keep evidence of the failed attempts of service
• Check your spouse’s last known address in person, if possible and you feel comfortable doing so
• Contact your spouse’s last known place of employment, if applicable
• Contact your spouse’s family members
• Check telephone information (411)
• Check the internet
• Check criminal court records
• Check local jails and correctional facilities
• Check the Department of Motor Vehicles
• Check the U.S. military locator website
• Check local hospitals and homeless shelters
• Check the Social Security Death Index website

If your efforts please the Court, then permission to publish the divorce complaint will be granted. It is normally published in a local newspaper located in the city of the last known address of your spouse. The publication usually runs for three weeks. The period could be longer depending upon the state. After publication, you will receive a notarized statement from the newspaper. This statement, which serves as proof of service, will be filed with the Court. If your spouse does not respond within three weeks, then ask the Court to issue a default divorce. However, your spouse still has six months to request that the default divorce be set-aside. But, this is not easily accomplished.

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