Is it legal for one spouse to serve another spouse divorce papers?

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Is it legal for one spouse to serve another spouse divorce papers?

Also, is an affidavit of service required when served?

Asked on March 28, 2012 under Family Law, Alabama


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Please, pleae, please check with an attorney in your state as to the procedural requirements of service.  I do have to tell you that generally speaking, you can not serve your spouse in an action to divorce.  In fact, no party to an action can serve another party to an action in any civil matters. Here is my understanding of the service requirements in Alabama:

 "1. Acceptance of Service:  The paperwork is personally delivered to your spouse, by someone over the age of 18 (and not your child).  You must get your spouse to sign and date the Acceptance of Service paper to verify that the petition was actually received.

2.  First Class Mail, with acknowledgement:  The petition can be mailed, along with an acknowledgment form that your spouse will need to sign, date, and return.  If it's not returned by the specified period, you will need to use another method of service. 

3.  Certified mail, return receipt requested:  Serving divorce papers with way requires that your spouse sign a paper that is attached to the envelope when he receives the petition in the mail.  This “return receipt” is then mailed back to you after it is signed, and will serve as proof of service.

4. Personal Service by Sheriff or process server: You can hire a Sheriff or professional process server to deliver your divorce petition. A proof of service form will be filled out by the person serving the petition, which will then be filed with the court.  

5. By Publication: When all other methods fail, the court will allow service to be made by publication.  This involves announcing the divorce petition in a newspaper where your spouse is likely to be living for a specified amount of time.  You will need to return a copy of the newspaper notice, with a statement for how long the notice ran, to the court for proof of service."  


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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