Serving Divorce Papers

Keep your divorce on track with reliable service of process
Service of Process

Understand how service of process impacts divorce so that when you're ready to untie the knot whether by divorce or legal annulment, this legal process won't slow you down.

What does it mean to serve divorce papers?

Serving divorce papers entails officially delivering your court-approved documents to the other party in the suit (usually the person you intend to divorce). People have a right to know they are involved in a lawsuit. You must follow specific steps to maintain the legality of the court proceeding. This is formally known as service of process.

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What is Service of Process?

Service of process is the delivery of legal documents to the parties affected by a lawsuit. It's often a required step to get your case to court successfully. The broader term applies to marriage dissolutions as well as other civil lawsuits, where two parties need to settle a dispute, often involving property or money.

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Service of Process Checklist
Don't let service of process slow down your divorce

What to Know Before Filing For Divorce


Research Divorce Laws In Your State

Legal considerations vary by state. For example, some states require couples to complete a long period of separation before filing a summons for divorce, while other states maintain no separation qualifications at all.  Knowing the local laws is the first step to preparing for divorce.

Start your research here.


Seek Legal Counsel

Having experienced legal counsel available to guide you through the proper process can save you a lot of time and stress. Different resources are available to aid those without the financial means to otherwise hire a lawyer through Equal Justice initiatives. 

Learn more at Legal Services Corporation


Understand How to Serve Divorce Papers in Your State

Every state has its own laws dictating how legal documents may be served. Understanding which laws apply to you - and how it impacts what you need to do is vital to ensuring that things move forward in your divorce.

Start your research here.

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Why use a divorce process server
In some states, there are specific rules for delivering family law or divorce documents. The laws can be complex and nuanced. Using a qualified process server provider, like ABC Legal Services can save you effort and time.

FAQ for Serving Divorce Papers (i.e. Service of Process in Divorce)

Divorces are often emotional and stressful. However, small mistakes can have serious consequences for your divorce proceeding. Here's how to avoid some common missteps related to serving divorce documents:

Do I need to serve divorce papers on my spouse?

In most cases, when filing a lawsuit of any kind the other party must be made aware. Make sure that you follow your state's regulations regarding service of process in relation to divorce proceedings. In some cases, the state may require you to serve documents on your spouse's lawyer or have them file a joint document with you to start the process (in which case you may not need service). In a select number of states, a waiver of service may be signed instead of having service performed.

What needs to be served to finalize my divorce?

Be sure to use the correct and most recent version of divorce papers and documents for divorce in your state or county. Serving process with defective or improper documents can result in your case being dismissed. Just as rules change, documents change. It is a best practice to have a lawyer draft divorce documents unless your state provides preapproved forms for divorce.

How do I prove I served my spouse the divorce papers?

For service of process to be valid, you must not only follow the rules of your state. You must also be able to prove the rules were followed. Improper service can lead to your suit being dismissed. One of the benefits of using a professional process server trained to provide quality proof of service is that they can substantiate all service attempts, successful and unsuccessful. This ensures that you have the ironclad evidence you need to qualify for alternate service or validate service if your spouse tries to have your case thrown out by suggesting the documents weren't delivered properly. Learn what ironclad proof of service looks like here.

Using a professional process server will ensure that your documents are delivered correctly and your divorce doesn't face any unnecessary legal hiccups along the way. Order service of process from anywhere in the U.S. to any state here.

How long does it take to serve divorce papers?

The time to serve divorce papers varies by location and the situation. Many documents can be served in a few days but sometimes it can take weeks, depending on the reliability of the address provided for delivery. However, service cannot begin unless the right documents have been properly filed at the court with jurisdiction over your divorce.

Can I serve divorce papers myself?

Don't serve documents yourself, unless the state laws allow it. Most states do not allow parties involved in a suit to deliver legal documents. In certain states, this is acceptable for divorces, but most will not allow it. Research laws for serving divorce papers in your state here.

Who can serve divorce papers?

In many states, a process server or another unbiased 3rd party should be able to deliver the documents. In some states, a licensed process server must serve the documents. Check local laws to see who needs to perform service of process in your state.

How long after filing for divorce are papers served?

The time period between filing and service of process for divorce varies by state and situation. In some states, there is a required waiting period at different points in the legal process for the dissolution of a marriage. In others, there is not. In most cases, once documents are properly filed and legal requirements for waiting periods, as applicable, are met service can take anywhere from 5-15 days.

What is a waiver of service for divorce?

A waiver for service of process is a document that a defendant can sign to waive or dismiss the plaintiff's obligation to pay for/hire a process server or another party to serve legal documents to them in order to move forward.

Can you serve divorce papers by email?

While electronic service of process may be an option in your state, service of process requires the use of an unbiased third party or court-designated party to deliver legal documents. You cannot email divorce papers to your spouse and consider the documents "served".

Do divorce papers need to be notarized?

Requirements regarding the notarization of divorce papers and other legal documents vary by state. Be sure to consult local rules and regulations about divorce to best understand if it is required in your state.

Can you serve divorce papers through mail or certified mail?

Requirements regarding mailing divorce papers and other legal documents vary by state. Be sure to consult local rules and regulations about divorce to best understand if it is an option in your state. In many cases, to get the authorization for the mailing, you must prove that other attempts at service have failed. Review state laws and consider using a process server throughout the process if allowed. If there are problems serving the documents, the process server will be able to make a record of what transpires so you may be able to submit a request for service by mail if allowed by local law.

How much does it cost to serve divorce papers?

Prices for service of process for divorce papers vary by state and by the party providing the service. To find out the pricing in your area, simply enter the address of the party you wish to serve divorce papers to here.

What types of documents does ABC Legal deliver?

We deliver all kinds of legal documents and notices. ABC Legal has delivered notices, summonses and complaints, warrants, levies, claims, judgments, renewals, writs, garnishments, subpoenas, and more!

Can you deliver documents for a debt collection case? How about family law?

If you need service of process for a document related to a civil case, we have you covered, where allowed by law. Debt collection, small claims, family law cases, personal injury issues, subrogation claims, tort claims, breach of contract claims, equitable claims, post-judgment collections, landlord-tenant disputes, property disputes – you name it. If you have a special type of document that needs deliver at scale, you can always reach out to learn more.
I would highly recommend using ABC Legal Services. I reside in California and needed to have someone served in Kennewick, WA and I located this group on Yelp and was extremely pleased with the quick response and the expertise that was shown. Thank you for your excellent service.
Divorce With Dignity
Helped me serve papers to my out of state husband. I uploaded my paperwork (which was very easy). Then, I gave them address and best times to deliver. I sent all this on a Sunday night and Tuesday morning I received proof of serve and receipt. Quick, easy and professional. I would recommend this company Thank you
Pro Se
Happy Ending...My client went about his business for ten years before discovering that he was never legally divorced. The defendant was particularly difficult to get served. Within just a couple of days of receiving my order she was finally served in Idaho. My client is delighted that he can now proceed with his divorce and marry his new fiance. 
O'Leary Law Office
Perfect For Out Of Country... Truly helped out so much for my situation. I was very anxious with how to proceed with my divorce since I had no clue what to do, and I was in another country. When I submitted my forms, ABC Legal actually noticed they were not stamped, and gave me a chance to upload the correct ones. The website was very easy to use, saved me the headache of to-and-fro emails, and the staff are very communicative. Will definitely recommend for people who feel just as lost as I felt.
Pro Se
Trust Pilot
Fast and Professional. I needed to have my husband served with divorce papers. The local sheriff had made one unsuccessful attempt within the 30 day period and told me I'd have to pay again with no guarantees. ABC had the papers delivered in less than 24 hours from the time they were submitted. I wish I had known about them from the beginning. Very user friendly platform. I knew what was going on for each step. If only this whole process could be this easy.


Highly Impressed. I am a paralegal for a divorce attorney in Alabama. We had been trying to get someone served in New Mexico with a Contempt action for several months, but due to Covid-19, the post office was not hand delivering certified mail. I found ABC Legal and they had him served within a week! The first address they tried was incorrect, so they suggested another address which is where they got him! I am highly impressed with their service and would definitely recommend them to other attorneys/paralegals! We will be using them again!

The information on this page does not constitute legal advice and is for general, informational use. Due to the changeability of laws, the information on this page may not reflect the most recent local laws. Always consult current legal and civil codes in your area for the most accurate information.