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The first thing to be done after filing for divorce is to serve your soon-to-be former spouse with the divorce papers. While this may seem simple enough, it is critical that service of process properly occur in order for the divorce to proceed as seamlessly as possible. Here are some details you should know about serving divorce papers in Texas.

Serving Divorce Papers in Texas

To be clear, there are certain limited instances where your spouse does not need to be served with the initial divorce payments. For instance, if your spouse voluntarily completed and signed a “Respondent’s Original Answer” form or a “Waiver of Service Only” form, then service of process will not be necessary. Note that the Waiver of Service Only form must have been signed in front of a licensed notary.

If your situation does not fall under one of the two exceptions listed above, then you will need to have your spouse served. More specifically, you will need to serve your spouse with the citation you get from the clerk’s office upon filing your case. You will also need to include a copy of the original divorce petition and any other forms that you filed along with the original divorce petition.

You cannot be the one to serve your spouse with the divorce papers. Instead, you must retain the services of the sheriff, a private process server, or the court clerk for such purposes. The best method of service is, of course, personal service. Personal service means that a copy of the divorce papers will be delivered to your spouse in person. A Return of Service form will be completed which details where and when your spouse was served and this will need to be filed with the court.

Alternatively, you may be able to serve your spouse via registered or certified mail with a return receipt requested. This is when the divorce papers are mailed to your spouse and your spouse signs the return receipt. The clerk of court will then complete the Return of Service form and it will be filed with the court. If you try to serve your spouse in person or via registered mail without success and you can confirm that your spouse lives or works at the location where service was attempted, then you may be able to ask the judge for permission for substituted service.

A Motion for Substituted Service, along with a Rule 106(b) Affidavit from the process server must be filed. Based on the information contained within these filings, the judge needs to be convinced that your spouse can be found at the location where service was attempted and can then sign an order authorizing substituted service. This order authorizes the process server to leave a copy of the divorce papers with anyone over 16 at the affidavit specified in the affidavit or service in any way that would reasonably and effectively give your spouse notice of the divorce. If your spouse cannot be located after diligent search efforts are made, and there are no children involved, you may be able to accomplish service by posting or service by publication.

Family Law Attorneys

For all of your divorce needs, from service of process onwards, you can count on the team at Navarrete & Schwartz for help. We are proud to serve the community of Midland, Texas and Permian Basin. Contact us today.