Your Guide to Serving Divorce Papers in Florida
When a civil complaint is filed in a Florida court, a notification must be delivered to the opposing party. This is often referred to as “service of process” or “being served papers”. As a divorce is technically a type of lawsuit, the spouse who files for divorce has an obligation to serve divorce papers on their partner. Here, our Tampa divorce attorneys explain the most important things to know about serving divorce papers in Florida.
Divorce Papers Must Be Served in the Proper Manner
You must take the time to serve divorce papers in accordance with procedures set forth by Florida law. The failure to properly serve divorce papers will slow down the process. In fact, a Hillsborough County court can throw your divorce case out and force you to start over if you fail to follow Florida’s service of process procedures. Here are your two best options for serving divorce papers on a spouse:
- Request that your local county sheriff serves the divorce papers; or
- Hire a professional process server to give the papers.
As a general rule, it is best to choose one of these two formal routes for serving divorce papers. By doing so, you can be confident that the documentation will be created proving that service was successful or that a good faith effort was made.
A Spouse Can Waive Right to Service of Process
In Florida, the large majority of divorces are uncontested. If a divorcing couple is working together to reach a settlement, there is often no reason to get a county sheriff or a private process server involved at all.
Instead, one spouse can simply file a joint form confirming that they are waiving their right to service of process. As explained by the Florida Bar Association, a divorce can actually proceed more quickly if service is waived.
Constructive Service of Process is Acceptable in Certain Circumstances
Unfortunately, some people try to hide from divorce papers in an effort to delay or other frustrate the legal process. You may be wondering: What do I do if my spouse is dodging divorce papers? Please know that you have options available. Your spouse cannot prevent you from getting a divorce simply by hiding from the process server.
Once you make a good faith effort to serve divorce papers, a court can approve a ‘Constructive Service of Process’. You can submit an affidavit to the court attesting to the fact that your spouse cannot be located. From there, a Florida court may allow you to post service in a local newspaper.
Contact Our Tampa Divorce Attorneys for Guidance and Support
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., we are a boutique law firm committed to providing top quality, personalized representation to clients. Our Florida divorce lawyers have the skills and knowledge to protect your rights. To arrange a confidential initial appointment, please contact us at our Tampa office right away. We represent clients throughout the entire region, including in Brandon, Riverview, Valrico, Carrollwood, Lutz, Keystone, and Westchase.