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How to deliver divorce papers

Getting divorced is a long and complex process. To start, you may be wondering whether you'll need to sit down with your ex right away to discuss the terms of the divorce.

If not, how will your ex receive news of the divorce? There are actually a few different ways you can go about this process.

Waiting period

Before you can get started on filing for divorce, it's important to know whether your ex will agree to get divorced. You can still divorce your ex-spouse if they don't agree with the decision to divorce. However, the courts may require that the two of you are separated for at least six months to prove the breakdown of the marriage.

An attorney can help you determine whether you should pursue the divorce or wait. He or she will also be useful in helping you complete the divorce complaint properly.

Delivering the papers via third-party

Once you have completed the divorce complaint, it will need to be "served" to your ex. This just means that the papers must be officially delivered to your ex. In most cases, a spouse cannot serve their ex themselves.

By acquiring a third-party to serve your ex, you'll have definite proof that your ex received the papers. This will be important if your ex does not acknowledge the complaint or attend court proceedings.

Third-party options

While your lawyer can help you prepare the divorce complaint and negotiations during proceedings, he or she will not be able to serve your ex for you.

Instead, you can ask that a friend, family member, professional process server or sheriff's service to carry out the task, so long as the person meets the following requirements:

  • The person is 18 years or older
  • The is not be involved in your divorce proceedings
  • The person can deliver the papers directly to your spouse

In Illinois, the sheriff's service is used most often.

If you do not know the whereabouts of your ex, you may be able to put notification of the divorce in some sort of local publication.

After your ex is served

Once your ex is served the divorce complaint, you should receive a document detailing proof of the service. You or your lawyer must file this with the court to begin proceedings.

From there, your attorney can help you make negotiations and file the corresponding paperwork to work toward your final divorce judgment.

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