After you’ve decided to get a divorce, you have a lot of things to deal with, especially if children are involved.
But the most important first step is for you to legally file the divorce petition, which sets the whole process in motion. However, if this is done incorrectly, you could hurt yourself later in the divorce proceeding for not adhering to the laws regarding divorce filing.
We think it’s important for you to understand how to properly serve a divorce petition, and though the information here is specific to Florida, most states follow the same process.
How To Properly Serve a Divorce Petition In Florida
Florida law requires you to take the following steps when serving a divorce petition:
- File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Document – this is the official document that informs the court you want to end your marriage.
- Obtain a Copy of the Summons – after you’ve filed the petition to dissolve your marriage, the court clerk will give you a summons.
- Take the Summons To a Sheriff Or Special Process Server – you must take the summons to the local sheriff in your area or to a special process server. The clerk can provide you with the location of your local sheriff or a special process server. You must provide them with your spouse’s last known living address and employment address.
- Ensure That The Sheriff Or Process Server Has Delivered the Summons – the process server must personally hand the divorce summons to your spouse, or to someone at his or her workplace or residence who is at least 15 years old.
You will receive notice that the summons has been served to your spouse. If you don’t receive this notice, follow up to ensure that the sheriff or process server delivered the summons.
In instances in which your spouse cannot be located, you will have to file a document with the court detailing all the efforts you’ve made to locate your spouse, as well as a document that allows you to publish the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in your local paper once a week for four consecutive weeks.
After that time has passed, a family court judge will finalize your divorce, although you will not be given spousal support or child support (if kids are involved) until you find your spouse.
Divorce Done the Right Way
Divorces can be challenging, which is why you should hire an experienced family lawyer to help ensure that all your rights are protected. Attorney Eric C. Cheshire has spent nearly 30 years helping clients navigate through divorces that range from amicable to hostile situations that require a skilled hand. Please call us today at (561) 677-8090 for a confidential legal consultation.