How Long After Filing for Divorce Is the Spouse Served?

May 29, 2024 | Content

Once you have decided to get a divorce, you might be anxious to get it over with. It can be difficult to be patient when you are eager to get a fresh start.

However, any legal proceeding requires you to comply with certain formalities, and one of those is the service of process on your spouse. Talk to a local family attorney about how long after filing for divorce your spouse will be served.

Rules Require Service of Process

Several legal rules govern the timeline for a divorce. At the beginning of the process, there is a requirement that the spouse receive the divorce papers—this is called service of process.

The person who files for divorce is the petitioner. The other spouse is the respondent. After the petitioner submits the divorce petition and supporting documents to the Georgia family court, the respondent must receive them. This is accomplished through the service of process.

In many cases, the petitioner hires a process server to hand deliver the papers to the respondent. If the respondent is not home, the process server can leave the papers with any responsible person at the address. The date of service starts the clock on the divorce proceeding—the respondent has 30 days to file their answer to the petition.

Timeframe for Service of Process

The Official Code of Georgia §19-11-4 governs service of process. It states that when the respondent is located in Georgia, the process server must deliver the papers within five days of receiving them.

The petitioner must arrange for the sheriff to serve the papers. A local family law attorney can ensure that the sheriff or other process server receives the divorce papers timely, but it could be a few business days before they receive them.

Although the law says that the process server must deliver the papers to the respondent within five days, that is not a hard and fast rule. The law also says that late service is not invalid. Delays are possible, especially if the respondent attempts to avoid service.

Service By Acknowledgement Is Possible

The law allows a couple to avoid hiring a process server by allowing service by acknowledgment. This is a simple procedure that works well when both spouses are aware of and agree to the divorce filing.

The petitioner can make a written request to the respondent to waive service of process. The petitioner would include a copy of the court papers with the written request. The respondent has 30 days to agree in writing to waive service.

Waiving service can save the cost of hiring a process server but does not necessarily save time. When a respondent waives service, they have 60 days from the date the petitioner requested the waiver to file their answer. When a respondent receives the divorce papers from a process server, they have 30 days from the date of service to answer the petition.

Work With a Family Attorney to Ensure Timely Service

A divorce proceeding cannot begin until the other spouse has official notice of it. Unfortunately, many things can go wrong that might delay the service of process.

Speak with a family law attorney when you are ready to file for divorce. They can explain how long the service will take after filing. They can also help arrange service by acknowledgment in an appropriate case. Get started today by calling the Atlanta Divorce Law Group.

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