Divorce can be a difficult and painful process. After your divorce petition has been filed in court, it’s time to serve papers on your partner. Make it easier on yourself by understanding the correct way to serve divorce papers.

Serving Divorce Papers

You have different options for serving papers. Choose from the following:

1. First class mail, with acknowledgement. Mail the papers to your partner with an acknowledgment form they sign, date and return.

2. Acceptance of Service. The papers are delivered in person by someone over the age of 18. You may not use one of your children for this. Your partner signs the Acceptance of Service paper to verify they received it.

3. Personal Service by Sheriff. For a fee, a sheriff or professional process server can deliver your papers. They will fill out a proof of service form that is filed in court.

4. Certified Mail, return receipt requested. Your partner signs a paper attached to the certified mail envelope when they receive it. This paper is mailed back to you and constitutes proof of service.

5. Publication. If all the above methods fail, you are allowed to try publication. You can put the notice in a newspaper where your partner is likely to be living for a time. For proof of service you will need a copy of the newspaper notice with a statement of how long it ran in the paper.

Be prepared for this process to take a few weeks. If your lawyer is quick to prepare the papers and you know where your partner is, it may only take two weeks. However, delays can stretch it out.

Note that each state has its own definition of what constitutes service in the case of a divorce. Be sure to read about your state’s requirements and hire an attorney if you are unsure about any of the directions you need to follow.