In legal parlance, the “service” of papers is the required process of notifying the other party that you have filed something in court concerning them. If you have filed for divorce, you need to “serve” your spouse through any of the official methods prescribed by law, and submit to the court a proof of delivery. Here are your options for serving divorce papers in Arizona.
Service By Acceptance
You can deliver the divorce papers yourself or mail them to your spouse. Either way, you will need to make sure that your spouse signs the Acceptance of Service form in front of a notary public and gives the signed form to you. Note that the Acceptance of Service does not mean your spouse agrees with your divorce petition. It is simply your proof that they admit to receiving the notification.
While this method is straightforward, it is not recommended if your situation involves domestic violence, abuse, or manipulation.
Service By Registered Process Server
If you need help locating your spouse, or if you feel that a third party should deliver your papers, you can hire a registered process server to do it for you. A process server can track down your spouse at their home, work, or other location, then serve the papers there. To look for potential process servers, a quick internet search or Yellow Pages browsing should give you this information.
Service By Sheriff
You can also have a Sheriff or a Sheriff’s Deputy deliver your divorce papers to your spouse. For this option, you will need to contact the Sheriff’s Office in the county where your spouse lives and arrange for the service. This typically requires you to pay a fee to the Sheriff’s Office, but if you cannot afford the cost, you may request a fee waiver or deferral from the court.
Service By Publication
If you are unable to locate your spouse despite your best efforts, you still have the option to ‘notify’ them by publishing the divorce summons in a newspaper. This is considered a last resort since you’ll have to pay for the space in the paper, which can be expensive. Further, there are specific rules to this method that you’ll want to check with your county.
In Maricopa County, for example, the summons must be published once a week for four consecutive weeks in a Maricopa County newspaper IF your spouse’s last known address was in this county. If their last known whereabouts were outside Maricopa County (but still in Arizona), the summons must be published in both a Maricopa County newspaper and in a newspaper in the county they were last located. This newspaper must be what is called a “paper of record.” You’ll recognize this newspaper if it is printing other legal notices . To make sure, ask the paper beforehand if they are a paper of record.
Requesting The Court For Alternative Service
In a scenario where all other service methods have failed, you may be able to file a Motion for Alternative Service, which requests the court for some other feasible means of service. In Arizona, you can only do this if you have made many attempts to serve the papers but have been unsuccessful.
Consulting with a Lawyer
If you are unsure about serving divorce papers, or if you are having trouble getting your spouse to receive them, please don’t hesitate to ask us at Goldman Law. We are experienced family law attorneys who can guide you on your best next steps in the divorce process. Call us today at (602) 698-5520.