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How Can I Serve Divorce Papers to an Out-of-State Spouse

The Washington Post recently reported on a novel ruling by a divorce court judge. The judge ruled that a spouse who was seeking a divorce could use Facebook to serve divorce papers. In this particular case, the defendant’s address was not known to his spouse, who wanted to end the marriage. There was proof the defendant was regularly checking his social media account and the court held that it was acceptable for the defendant to be served with divorce papers via a private message on his Facebook account.

Courts have split on when service of process via social media is permitted or not, so you should not count on being able to serve your spouse with papers on his or her Facebook page. However, the ruling provided a novel solution to an age old problem: how do you serve divorce papers to an out-of-state spouse.  At Brown & Charbonneau, LLP, our experienced Irvine divorce lawyers have helped many people to tackle the tough issue of getting papers to someone who does not live locally. When you want to end your marriage and your spouse is not living near where you are located, we can provide you with advice on what your options are for filing for divorce.

How to Serve Divorce Papers to an Out-of-State Spouse

First and foremost, when your spouse lives out of state, you need to ensure that the court where you are filing for divorce has the jurisdiction to actually hear the case. This can be a complicated question because there are different residency requirements in different locations. The issue of what court should hear the divorce becomes even more complicated when there are children involved because the court where the kids have domicile is the one that should decide on custody. Your attorney can help you to make sure you are filing your divorce paperwork with the appropriate court.

Once you have filed the divorce papers, you need to serve your spouse formally with the notice of divorce. There are strict requirements for service of process to ensure that your spouse receives the papers, but you have a number of options to serve divorce papers to an out-of-state spouse.

One option you have is to hire a process server in the area where your spouse lives, or to get help from local law enforcement where your spouse lives. There is a cost to this, but it ensures your spouse receives the papers and is properly notified so the divorce can move forward. You can also serve your spouse by mail, with proof of receipt signed by your spouse. When all else fails, publishing notification in the newspaper may be an option- as can using social media if the judge allows it.

At Brown & Charbonneau, LLP, our experienced Irvine divorce lawyers will help you to understand all of the different approaches to serve divorce papers on an out-of-state spouse and we’ll help you to decide on the best course of action for your situation. You need help from a lawyer with experience handling divorces when the spouses live in different states and we are here to provide the advice and representation you require. Call today to learn more. 714-505-3000