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A process service or service of process is how you serve your spouse with divorce and custody paperwork. In general, it is an easy process, but there are times the act of service becomes complicated, if not impossible.
When your attorney files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the divorce petition, the clerk will issue a summons. From there, your lawyer can take the summons to a local sheriff’s office or process server to have it delivered to your spouse.
This procedure is simple but important. If you do not follow the rules of Florida’s process service, you could face significant delays in your divorce case.
The Service of Due Process
Due process is a right created by the United States Constitution. All United States citizens have the right to be informed of a summons under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
The process servers are the people who deliver the notification of the lawsuit or pending matter. They deliver the paperwork promptly, and they will verify that the proper party has received the documents and summons.
Why Does Process Service Matter in Family Court?
A service of process is necessary in a family court case because it ensures that the due process laws and rights of the other spouse were upheld. If the papers are not served to your spouse properly, the court legally cannot rule on the case. Also, if the service is done inappropriately, your case could be dismissed, and you must start over.
The Official Rules for a Florida Service of Process
The original process is completed by delivering a copy to the person to be served along with a copy of the petition, complaint, and any summons issued by the court. These copies are left with the spouse being served or with a person who is residing with the spouse who is 15 years of age or older. The process server must notify the individual receiving the documents regarding what the documents are before leaving.
Florida allows the service to be made by an officer of a law enforcement agency or any competent person appointed by the court to serve the process. The person must make a proof of service affidavit promptly (usually at the time of service), which establishes that the documents were in fact delivered to the appropriate party.
The Fee for a Service of Process
Usually, you will have a fee, regardless of who serves your spouse. The fee may be charged by the company or through your attorney, depending on who initiates the service.
What if a Spouse Cannot be Found?
If a spouse cannot be located, and you are unaware of where he or she works or lives, your lawyer can still start the divorce through a constructive service of process. In this, your lawyer will use an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, which details the efforts made to locate your spouse – such as checking local directories, consulting the local tax assessor or voter registration, and contacting affiliates of the spouse for his or her whereabouts.
Your Family Law Attorney Will Understand the Laws of Due Process – Contact One Today
If you have not yet hired a family law attorney, but you would like to initiate the process of a divorce, contact the team at Beller & Bustamante, P.L. for assistance. We can help you with all necessary filings, including the service of process.
Schedule a consultation appointment now at 904-288-4414 or request more information from us online.