To better understand serving divorce papers, you need to know the two types of divorces:
- A mutually agreed divorce — This is a divorce where you and your spouse agree that things are not working out and you should get a divorce. It is also referred to as an amicable divorce because you and your spouse agree on how marital property is to be shared and how to raise your children with their best interest in mind. In this type of divorce, there is no need to serve divorce papers. You can, however, contact a family lawyer who specialises in divorce and ask them to get you divorce papers and oversee the divorce process. Using a divorce lawyer is recommended to avoid mistakes that can come back to bite you in the future.
- A one-sided divorce — This is also referred to as a hostile or unamicable divorce. Either you or your spouse might see the need for a divorce, maybe due to cheating, domestic abuse, falling out of love, etc. In this case, the decision for divorce is mostly one-sided, where one spouse serves the other divorce papers.
Understanding the Process of Serving Divorce Papers
Filing a Divorce Petition
If you want to serve divorce papers to your spouse, you need to file a divorce petition or summons to a court. This is a document that highlights key details about your marriage and what you are asking for (child support, child custody, alimony and distribution of assets).
Serving Divorce Papers
Serving your spouse with divorce papers comes next. Your spouse needs to know that you have filed for a divorce petition and what you are asking for; divorce papers serve that purpose. It is recommended to avoid physically handing your spouse the divorce papers yourself. Use a person above the age of 18 years or your divorce lawyer to deliver them by hand.
Filing an Answer and Court Date
Once your spouse receives the divorce papers, they are required to file an answer to the court within a particular time frame and also serve you with the answer. The answer can be that your spouse accepts or does not accept your demands. If they do not, your spouse can highlight what they need from the divorce. The court then sets a court date to hear your case and make a ruling.
An Important Note
Note that you and your spouse might need separate divorce lawyers. If you are the one serving the divorce papers, hire a lawyer before filing for a divorce petition. If you are the one being served with divorce papers, hire a lawyer when you receive the divorce papers.