How do I go about serving my husband divorce papers?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How do I go about serving my husband divorce papers?

I live and am filing in Ohio. He lives in South Carolina and has said on many occasions that he is not going to court. I have filed the paperwork and the court OH sent it to him via Certified Mail in SC. He did not sign for it and it was returned to the court OH as undelivered. The court OH is telling me I have to get the papers to him myself. How do I go about serving them to him in another state SC?

Asked on March 31, 2017 under Family Law, Ohio


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is something called "service by publication". This is used in just this very situation. First of all by way of background, in any legal proceeding action cannot be taken against an individual without giving them "notice" of the proceedings. This is in order to give them the chance to appear in court and explain their side of things. In a divorce action, even if a spouse can't be located, they still must be notified of the action before it can proceed forward. This is where service by publication comes in. Typically it works as follows: the filing spouse (i.e. the "petitioner") must make a true and genuine effort to find their missing spouse or non-filing spouse (i.e. the "respondent"). The petitioner will have to present proof to the court that they tried to locate their spouse. Once they have done so, they will be allowed to serve the absent spouse by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper in that spouse's last known location (as opposed to personally serving them). The court will instruct which paper should be used. Then, as a general rule, the respondent has 30-60 days to file their answer. If they fail to do so within the specified time, the petitioner files a request to enter a "divorce by default. In your case, since your husband is lprobably iving out of state, your best course of action is to hire an attorney who has experience in this type of divorce. They can best advise you further.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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