To begin the divorce process, you will need to have your spouse served with a summons and petition. This ensures that they know your intentions to divorce them and what you are asking for from the courts. While it may seem easy enough to have someone served, there are many ways that the process can get “hung up.”
Don’t try to serve divorce papers yourself
Even though this might seem like an easy way to save money, it could end up costing you more in court fees later on. In Minnesota. A third party must serve divorce papers. No one who is associated with the case is allowed to serve documents in civil matters. It is best to let your divorce attorney handle this so that it is done correctly and promptly.
Once the summons has been issued and date stamped by the clerk of court, you are on a schedule. If the papers aren’t served within a specific time, the summons could end up being withdrawn. Then, you have to start all over again.
Who can serve the papers?
Some sheriff’s departments offer to serve papers, but it isn’t their priority, and it is a service you pay for. There are also process servers that you can pay to serve the papers. Every time they attempt to serve the papers and fail, they will add more fees. If they aren’t able to serve the papers, they will have to sign a proof-of-service document.
Once the third-party hand-delivers the summons to your spouse, they sign an affidavit of personal service. Another alternative is to have your spouse sign an acknowledgment of service, stating that they were served. With an experienced lawyer, you don’t have to worry about all of these details. The lawyer will handle it all.
Once your spouse is served the divorce papers
After your spouse has been served with divorce papers in Minnesota, they have 30 days to file their response with the court. They can agree with the relief that you are requesting, or they can disagree with it. They may even file a counter-petition. If they have been adequately served and they don’t respond at all, you may request a default hearing.
What if I can’t find my spouse?
You still need to make a reasonable effort to locate your spouse. If you can’t find them, you must let the court know how you tried to locate them and your search results. Write everything down and save any mail that is returned to you marked “undeliverable.”
At this point, you should ask the court for permission to publish a notice of the divorce in the courthouse or the newspaper. This is what is known as a Motion to Serve by Publication or Posting. You have 60 days to either locate your spouse and serve them or to file a motion to Serve by Publication or Posting. If you can’t do one or the other within 60 days of filing for the divorce, you will need to register for an extension. Otherwise, the court will dismiss your case, and you could have to start over again.
How hard do I have to look for my spouse?
Reasonably hard. After all, according to the law, they deserve to have their day in court as much as you do. There is no set-in-stone standard for how to prove you have done your due diligence to find your spouse, but there are some things that the court expects you to do:
- State the last time you saw your spouse and where.
- Send the court papers by regular mail and certified mail, return receipt, to your spouse’s last known address. Save the letter when it is returned. Attach copies of the envelopes, which will show that the mail was returned to you as undeliverable.
- Spouse’s last known address in person, if it is safe
- Spouse’s last known job, if any.
- Spouse’s family members
- Search via the internet.
- Local criminal court records
- The local jail
- The Department of Motor Vehicles.
- U.S. military locator website.
- Social Security Death Index website.
- Local hospitals and homeless shelters
- Provide any other information you have to explain why you can’t find your spouse or don’t have any additional information on which to follow up.
Once you have made these efforts and recorded the results, it will be up to the judge whether or not it is sufficient.
Hire an Attorney
Not only can filing motions and attempting to serve someone with papers be difficult, but it can also take time and emotional energy that you don’t have. By having a divorce attorney handle this, you will know that it is being done right. The attorneys at White & Associates are divorce experts. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.