Whether you’re petitioning for divorce or expect your spouse to do so, this very early part of the process can be very confusing.
Divorce proceedings can’t begin until the respondent spouse (the person getting served divorce papers) receives them, which is known as the service of process. Not only that, but service of process must adhere to some very specific requirements pertaining to who conducts the service and how they do it.
You Can’t Personally Serve Your Spouse
Many people understandably believe that they can serve their spouse divorce papers. After all, many people are familiar with their spouse’s schedule and place of work, so locating them would be easier this way.
The problem is that spouses are prohibited from serving each other divorce papers because someone who is not involved in the divorce must do so. In Florida, this person can be the sheriff in the county where the respondent spouse lives, but it can also be a certified process server.
What Is a Process Server?
A process server is a third party who delivers legal documents to someone else involved in a lawsuit. In most cases, these documents contain the official notice of the lawsuit and require the recipient to respond and/or appear in court for an initial hearing.
The following are a few of the legal requirements to be a process server in Florida:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a permanent Florida resident
- Pass a background check
- Have no mental or legal disabilities
- Pass an exam
- Receive a Certificate of Good Conduct
Although process servers are familiar with the court’s requirements for service of process, these individuals are often part of firms that provide this very specific legal service. Your divorce attorney – whom you should contact before filing your divorce petition – can connect you with a trusted process server.
Other Service of Process Requirements
We’ve established that spouses can’t personally serve each other divorce papers and that a sheriff or certified process server must do so. We’ve also gone over the requirements a certified process must meet to qualify for this role.
Here are a few additional requirements that ensure proper service of process:
- Service of process can’t occur on Sundays.
- Process servers (or anyone, for that matter) can’t leave divorce papers in a mailbox unless the respondent is purposefully evading service.
- Legal documents must be handed directly to the respondent or left at their house.
- If service of process is to occur during the respondent’s time at work, the process server must notify the respondent’s employer ahead of time.
- If the respondent is in a different state, the process server must follow that state’s laws for service of process.
Do You Need Help Taking the Next Step?
If you require legal assistance with divorce, Beatriz Zyne, P.A. can help you take the next step. Our experienced attorney can guide you through the divorce process and toward a brighter future.
To learn more or request a consultation, contact us online now.