What Can You Do When Your Spouse Is Ducking Service?

Some people simply do not want to get divorced. Whether they are still in love with their partner, or enjoy making life miserable for them, refusing to accept service of divorce paperwork or hiding from the process server is a common tactic that many people employ to delay or stall divorce proceedings.

Just because a person is not accepting service of divorce paperwork willingly does not mean that they have the power to stop a divorce from occurring; instead, there are many ways that the spouse who wants the divorce can use to move the case forward. If your spouse is trying to avoid service, consider using these methods to start your divorce case.

Use a Process Server or the Sheriff’s Department

First, in order to start a divorce case, your spouse must be served with the divorce petition and a copy of the summons. The process of delivering this paperwork to a person is known as service or service of process.

The court in a divorce case requires proof that the person has actually received this paperwork before the case can begin. In many circumstances, a spouse seeking a divorce can simply hand the paperwork to his or her partner, who will then bring it to an attorney and respond to the petition. When things are not so simple, using a process server or the sheriff’s department can ensure that all of the legal requirements for service of process are met.

In most counties, the local Sheriff’s Department will use their own resources to track down and find a person who is avoiding service. Much like the department finds hiding fugitives, the Sheriff’s Department has the ability to look for changes of address or changes in employment, and can locate and serve an individual at their home or work.

In addition, professional process servers are trained to located people who do not want to be found. Much like you see on TV or in the movies, these process servers can use ruses to trick people into identifying themselves so that they can be served with paperwork. While most cases do not require complex subterfuges in order to begin a divorce case, it does happen occasionally.

Whether you use a process server or the Sheriff’s Department, both types of organizations have been trained to provide proof that the lawsuit has started according to the state’s legal requirements.

When Process Servers Fail

Sometimes, a person simply cannot be found. When process servers or the Sheriff’s Department cannot locate your ex-spouse, other methods may be necessary.

First, the court may allow a divorce spouse to serve his or her ex via U.S. Mail. This means that a certified letter will be sent to your former spouse’s last known address, return receipt requested. If the certified letter receipt is returned, the case can begin as usual.

If none of these methods work, the last resort would be service by publication. Service by publication means that a notice will be published in the legal notices in the back of a local paper. Since most people do not read these notices every day (if ever), service by publication is normally only when everything else has failed.

During a divorce, you often have more important things to worry about than tracking down an ex who is trying to avoid service. In these cases, having an experienced divorce attorney on your side relieves you of the burden of serving an ex, and allows you to focus on rebuilding your life.

At the Law Office of Jonathan M. Galler, we understand that dealing with your ex can be difficult. Our goal is to help you put the past behind you by finding your spouse and negotiating a divorce agreement that fits your needs.  We will work with your former spouse on your behalf, so that you can concentrate on moving forward.

For a free consultation with our experienced Florida divorce attorneys, contact us today by 561.881.6912.