Understanding Serving Divorce Papers

Law Blog

There are usually two kinds of divorces:

  • Amicable Divorce (both parties find divorce to be the best way forward with no dispute)
  • Hostile/Unamicable Divorce (one party initiates the divorce due to either emotional or physical violence/abuse, adultery/cheating, etc.)

In an amicable divorce, neither party serves the other divorce papers. You might, however, need a divorce/family lawyer to help you put together divorce papers, verify whether the contents of the divorce papers reflect what you and your spouse agreed upon and then file them on your behalf. The benefit of having a divorce lawyer is that you ensure no errors are made, meaning a smooth and quicker divorce process. 

In a hostile divorce, one party needs to serve the other divorce papers.

What Is Serving Divorce Papers?

This is the act of filing for a divorce whereby you file a divorce petition or summons to a court. The petition usually highlights important aspects of your marriage and what you are asking for in the divorce. These can be things like alimony, child custody, child support and distribution of assets. 

Your spouse needs to know that you have filed a divorce petition; this is where the term 'serving divorce papers' comes in. You need to serve your spouse with divorce papers usually by hand delivery to ensure they have received them. You are required to find someone other than yourself and above 18 years of age to deliver the petition.

Upon receipt of the divorce petition, your spouse is supposed to file an answer to the court within a particular highlighted time frame and also have a copy delivered to you; you can call it being served with an answer. Just like serving divorce papers, your spouse should use someone other than themselves and who is over the age of 18.

What Is Filing an Answer?

Remember, in your petition, you stated what you wanted from the divorce. The answer from your spouse indicates whether they accept your demands or not. If they don't, the answer indicates what your spouse wants from the divorce. 

Both you and your spouse are then expected to show up in court at a particular date for a judge to listen to your divorce case and make a judgement. 


You should know that if you choose to go the hostile divorce way, which involves serving divorce papers, you might spend a good portion of your hard-earned money. Filing a divorce petition and filing an answer costs some money; you may also need to pay lawyer fees.

Contact a lawyer for more information about serving divorce papers.


3 June 2020

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