Service of process is the legal term for formally notifying their spouse of filed divorce actions.
In divorce cases, the defendant is the person who did not file.
In a divorce, the defendant is served shortly after the divorce case is filed with the court.
The documents served to the defendant spouse are the initial complaint, the initial filing forms, the summons, and notice of any status conferences or court dates to be served. It is also up to them and their attorney to decide if they want to include discovery requests in the initial service.
The time-frame for servicing a spouse with divorce papers is generally as soon as possible. Some judges would come in with a deadline if service is not completed within a certain time-frame.
Once the defendant confirms who they are, the server needs to tell the defendant that they are being served with the divorce papers and then hand them the papers.
Someone could serve another party through the sheriff’s office. They could do service via a private process server, which functions much like a private investigator, or they could do service by publications.
Service through sheriff is after filing they have a police officer from the Sheriff’s Department serve the defendant spouse.
Our firm does not use this method of service very often, because it could take a much longer time than using a private process server. We have less control over when the sheriff’s office would go out. Also, if there are children involved, we do not want them seeing a scary police officer show up at the door.
The acknowledgment of service is another form of service. Instead of having either the sheriff or private process server formerly serve the defendant spouse, they send them the packet directly from their attorney with a cover letter and the acknowledgment of service. Basically, they are asking them to accept service without the need for formal service.
Our firm commonly uses this method, because a lot of times spouses do not want to come across as overly litigious or trying to start a fight right from the beginning. This is a much calmer and more peaceful manner of attempting service.
Common instances of this method being used include any time that a spouse would like to keep things calm and not aggravate a situation. It could also be used in an uncontested situation. It is also used when the parties have already reached an agreement and were filing everything all together. When the parties sign the settlement agreement, they also acknowledge service.
A special or private process server is an individual who acts as a personal server. It is a third party private investigator who could complete formal service that is not with the sheriff’s office.
This method of the process is commonly used by our firm in most cases where we do not obtain an acknowledgment of service. Private process servers are more discreet. They allow more flexibility and control over the timing of the service, and they are much quicker.
There other methods of serving divorce papers that are commonly seen in Atlanta. The other way to complete service would be serviced by publication, and that is used only when the defendant spouse could not be located.
Yes, one spouse could hand deliver the divorce papers to their spouse if they are seeking to acknowledge service. However, if the spouse refuses to acknowledge, they would have to move forward with formal service via the sheriff’s office or a private process server. The spouse could not formally meet the service requirement.
In some ways it could it be difficult to serve an individual with divorce papers. It happens when the defendant spouse knows that the divorce service is coming and they do not want to accept it so they hide or refuse to answer the door. There are instances where they do not know where the other spouse is. They could just try other delay tactics.
Ways an individual could avoid being served with divorce papers or other legal documents include trying to hide and refusing to answer the door. They have to get more creative, like serving them at work.
Ideally, divorce papers have to be given directly to the receiving spouse. There are exceptions to this rule. An attorney would be able to explain them to them and whether their situation applies.
If the spouse could not be found and they have attempted service, they would complete an affidavit of diligent search, which tells the court that they tried everything they could. Then, they would move forward with service by publication.
Other examples of difficulties that could be experienced with serving a spouse would be if the defendant spouse is out of state. In that case, most of the time they have no choice but to use the sheriff’s office because they do not know private process servers in other states. It could take a while to communicate between sheriff’s offices and courts. It could also happen where the defendant spouse receives a notice and they flee. Then, they have to do that affidavit of diligence search and move forward with service by publication.
Yes, there are nuances to Atlanta law surrounding how, when, and who is able to serve someone with divorce papers. There are several requirements as to who could and could not serve a party to the action. For example, the filing spouse could not serve. A server also has to be over the age of 18. Some counties even require a certain type of certification with the county. There are different requirements from different counties, and an attorney would know what all of these requirements are.
Someone wanting to get a divorce would hire an Atlanta divorce lawyer to help them serve their spouse with divorce papers, because that way they would be sure to follow all of the county and state requirements. There is no risk of service not being completed. There is no risk of service being rejected, because some of the requirements were not followed. If they run into any difficulties, the attorney would be able to overcome those, as well.
An experienced divorce lawyer could find solutions to a person trying to avoid being served. There are several different things they could try, such as having a private investigator look into what their schedule is and locating them at their place of employment or any hobbies that they enjoy. They could also have private investigators conduct other types of research too, if it comes down to it submitting that affidavit of diligent search to show that they tried everything.
Atlanta Divorce Law Group