Our Florida Family Law DIY Online Course is Here! - learn more

Downtown Orlando, Florida

How To Serve Divorce Papers in Orlando, FL

Get a Free Consultation

Even though Florida is a no-fault divorce state, one spouse must file a petition with the court to begin the divorce process. The spouse must serve the Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage on their spouse. Delivery of a copy of the divorce papers to your spouse is called service of process.

Service of process is crucial for two reasons. First, you must serve the divorce papers on your spouse to obtain a divorce. Second, the service of process sets the deadline for your spouse to respond to the divorce petition. You can file for a default divorce decree if your spouse fails to respond before the deadline expires. 

How Do I Serve Divorce Papers on My Spouse in Orlando, FL?

There are several means of service of process you can use to serve the divorce papers on your spouse. You cannot serve the divorce papers on your spouse personally. Generally, a process server handles the task for you. The process server is a neutral third party not involved in the divorce proceedings. 

Acceptable forms of service include:

Acceptance of Service 

Your spouse can sign an affidavit stating they accept the service of the divorce papers. The Acceptance of Service is filed with the court. Your spouse must understand they are accepting legal service of a petition for divorce. In other words, you cannot trick your spouse into accepting service.

Service by Mail

Your spouse might agree to accept service through the mail. If so, they must sign a return receipt from the post office, signifying they received the mail. The return receipt is filed with the court to prove service was accomplished. 

Personal Service

Personal service occurs when the divorce papers are handed to your spouse. The sheriff in the county where the defendant resides is the primary process server for legal papers. However, the sheriff can designate process servers to serve legal documents, including divorce papers. In Florida, process servers must meet specific criteria and be certified by the state. 

A person may be served at their place of employment in some instances. The process server must notify the person’s employer in advance of service. The process server must permit the employer to designate a private area for service. Process servers may be fined $1,000 if they do not notify the employer before serving someone at work.

Service by Substitution 

A process server may serve divorce papers by substituted service. In this circumstance, they leave the divorce papers with someone living at your spouse’s address who is at least 15 years old. The process server must explain to the person they give the divorce papers to that they are serving legal documents on your spouse so the person can notify them of their receipt.

Service by Publication 

When a process server has made several unsuccessful attempts to serve your spouse, your attorney may petition the court asking for service by publication. A notice is published in a newspaper or other publication in the place where your spouse resides. Service by publication is often the last resort if the process server cannot affect service. 

How Do You Serve Divorce Papers on a Spouse Who Does Not Reside in Florida?

In some cases, a spouse might live in another state. If so, additional steps must be taken for out-of-state service of process of divorce papers. Unfortunately, some spouses may need to hire a private investigator to locate their spouse if they have disappeared or moved to evade service.

Florida’s long-arm statutes allow the state courts to exercise jurisdiction over a person to effect service if the person has sufficient ties to Florida. That means the person has a connection to Florida, such as operating a business or owning property. 

If you serve your spouse in another state, you must follow that state’s laws for service of process. Typically, your Orlando divorce lawyer hires a process server authorized to serve legal documents in the state where your spouse resides. The process server serves the divorce petition on your spouse and returns an Affidavit of Service to file with the court.

What Happens After You Serve Divorce Papers on Your Spouse in Orlando, FL?

Your spouse has 20 days from the service date to respond to or answer the divorce complaint. They are in default if they fail to file a response or ask for an extension during that time. You can request the court to enter a default judgment granting the divorce and other relief.

If your spouse responds or files an answer, the direction of the case depends on several factors. When spouses agree to all divorce terms, they can file a proposed divorce settlement with the court for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one of the quickest and easiest ways to obtain a divorce decree.

However, when spouses disagree on divorce terms, the divorce is disputed. Sometimes, spouses may negotiate a divorce settlement to avoid a trial. However, you can proceed to trial if your spouse refuses to negotiate in good faith to obtain a divorce settlement

Do You Have Questions About a Divorce in Orlando, FL?

The best way to get answers to your divorce questions is to meet with an attorney for a free consultation. Our Orlando divorce lawyers offer a free consultation to answer divorce questions and learn about your legal options for pursuing a divorce.

Contact the Orlando Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today

For more information, contact our experienced Orlando divorce lawyers at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC by calling (407) 831-0203 to schedule a free consultation.

Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803
United States

Get a free consultation.
No obligations.

Call Now Button