What if I Cannot Serve My Spouse with Divorce Papers?

 Posted on July 10, 2023 in DuPage County Divorce Attorneys

Wheaton, IL divorce lawyerIn order to begin the divorce process, you need to serve your spouse with court papers. Some spouses may not want to face the realities of the divorce process, such as child support and alimony. Even when you hire a third party to personally serve your spouse, they may struggle to track down your spouse. A divorce lawyer can help you when you are having difficulty making personal service.

Service Requirements in a Divorce

In order to meet your requirements for personal service in a divorce, you must have a third party, such as a sheriff or private service agency, serve your spouse. You are not allowed to do it on your own, even if the divorce is uncontested (if the divorce is uncontested, you do not have to serve your spouse papers at all). You can meet the requirements by:

  • Having the third party give the papers to your spouse personally

  • Have the process server leave the papers at the spouse’s home with a family member or person residing there over the age of 13

  • Certified mail

You only have two days after the divorce papers were filed with the court to effect service. This is the only way for the court to obtain jurisdiction over your spouse.

A Spouse May Try to Avoid Service

Some people may actively try to avoid service. They might not open the door to their home, hide at someone else’s home, or do anything else they can to elude the process server. You may learn that the process server did not accomplish their job because your spouse managed to thwart service. Alternatively, a spouse may have been deported and may legitimately not be reached at all. 

Courts give divorce petitioners some leeway if they have tried and failed to serve papers. First, you must submit a detailed motion that shows the efforts that you made to effect service. You may need to resort to a process called “divorce by publication,” in which a spouse who is unable to locate their husband or wife for service publishes their intent to get divorced in a public newspaper. If you cannot locate your spouse in the end, you will still be able to get divorced because a court will not allow a reluctant spouse to thwart you forever. 

DuPage County Family Law Attorneys Helping Clients

An experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer can advise you on how best to begin the divorce process, including helping you with complicated issues such as serving divorce papers. You can reach out to the attorneys at Andrew Cores Family Law Group to schedule a free consultation. Call us today at 630-871-1002 to speak with an attorney. 



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