Everything You Need To Know About Serving Divorce Papers
Understanding the legal process of serving divorce papers – Learn whether you or your spouse must be served and what it entails.
What is the process of serving divorce papers in Arizona?
In Arizona, the process of serving divorce papers, also known as the Summons and Petition, typically involves the following steps:
- Filing the Petition: The spouse who wants a divorce, known as the petitioner, files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Superior Court in the county where either spouse resides.
- Issuing the Summons: The court clerk will issue a Summons, which is a legal document that notifies the other spouse, known as the respondent, that a divorce has been filed against them.
- Serving the Summons and Petition: The Summons and Petition must be served on the respondent in accordance with Arizona law. This typically involves delivering the documents in person by a process server or a sheriff’s deputy.
- Proof of Service: The petitioner must file a Proof of Service with the court to show that the respondent has been properly served with the Summons and Petition.
In Arizona, either spouse can serve the divorce papers, although the petitioner cannot serve the papers personally. The petitioner must pay a fee if they choose to use a process server. The petitioner may also be able to ask the sheriff’s office to serve the papers for free.
The respondent is served with the divorce papers and given a certain amount of time to respond. If the respondent does not respond, the court may enter a default judgment in favor of the petitioner. If the respondent does respond, the case will proceed through the court system, including negotiations or a trial if necessary, until a final divorce decree is issued.
What are some common problems when serving divorce papers in Arizona?
Some common problems that can arise when serving divorce papers in Arizona include:
- Difficulty locating the respondent: If the petitioner does not know the respondent’s current address, it can be challenging to serve them with the divorce papers. The petitioner may need to take extra steps to locate the respondent, such as hiring a private investigator or searching public records.
- Resistance or avoidance by the respondent: The respondent may try to avoid being served with the divorce papers by hiding or refusing to accept them. In such cases, the petitioner may need to request permission from the court to serve the papers by publication or posting.
- Timing issues: Arizona law requires that the respondent has at least 20 days to respond to the divorce papers, which can cause delays if the papers are not served promptly. If the petitioner waits too long to serve the papers, they may need to request an extension from the court.
- Serving papers on an out-of-state respondent: If the respondent lives out of state, serving the papers can be more complicated. The petitioner may need to comply with the other state’s laws, which could require hiring a local process server or mailing the papers by certified mail.
It is essential to follow Arizona’s laws and procedures for serving divorce papers to ensure the process is legally valid and avoid unnecessary delays or complications.
Do I need an attorney to serve divorce papers in Arizona?
It is not necessary to hire an attorney to serve your divorce papers in Arizona, as either spouse can serve the papers themselves or use a process server. However, there are several reasons why hiring an attorney to handle the service of process may be beneficial:
- Knowledge of the law: An attorney experienced in divorce cases will know Arizona’s laws and procedures for serving divorce papers. They can ensure that the papers are served correctly and in a timely manner.
- Objectivity: Getting through a divorce can be emotionally challenging, and serving divorce papers can be difficult. By hiring an attorney, the petitioner can remain objective and avoid potential conflicts or confrontations with the respondent.
- Avoiding mistakes: Serving divorce papers involves strict legal requirements. An attorney can help ensure that all the necessary paperwork is filed correctly and that the respondent is served properly. This can help avoid delays or complications in the divorce process.
- Legal representation: If the respondent disputes the divorce or raises other legal issues, the petitioner already has an attorney familiar with their case and can represent them in court.
Hiring an attorney to serve divorce papers in Arizona can provide peace of mind, help avoid mistakes, and ensure that the divorce process proceeds smoothly. The Snader Law Group can assist you with your divorce and take of serving your spouse. Call us today!