When a divorce is initiated in Washington State, the other spouse must be notified of the action. That is done by serving them with a copy of the divorce papers. After the other spouse has been served with the documents, they have a set time to respond to the petition. If he or she fails to do so, the case may be finalized through an Order of Default.
If you need to know more about how to serve divorce papers in Washington, contact a Tacoma Divorce Attorney.
How to Serve Divorce Papers in Washington
After filing your divorce papers with a local court, you need to serve them on your spouse. It is not the court’s responsibility to serve divorce papers, so the task falls on you. The papers can be served using any of the following means:
- Hand delivery
- Regular mail with a written acknowledgement from the defendant
- Certified mail, return receipt: Certified mail simply means that a Post Office provides you with a slip proving that you mailed a letter. Return receipt is a green postcard attached to the letter the recipient should sign to prove they got the letter. It’s attached by the Post Office, who will mail it back to you
Certain rules apply on how you can serve divorce papers to a spouse. Anyone aged 18 years or older, expect you can hand the papers to your spouse. That person can be a relative, friend, or a professional server. You should note that you cannot give the papers to your spouse yourself, but you can mail them.
The divorce papers may be presented to your spouse anywhere that your spouse is found. It can be at work, home, street, friend’s home, gas station, etc.
Can The Divorce Papers Be Given to Somebody Other Than A Spouse?
The divorce paperwork should be delivered to your spouse directly. They shouldn’t be given to somebody else like the mother of your spouse. However some exceptions apply:
- The forms may be given to somebody of appropriate age and discretion, who stays in the same house with your spouse. However, you’ll need to be in a position to convince the court of that living situation
- If your spouse sends a written authorization for somebody else to accept the paperwork, then you’re allowed to serve that individual
Additionally, the papers cannot be given to somebody at your spouse’s workplace like a receptionist or colleague. The only time that can happen is if your spouse has written authorization for someone else to take the documents.
What If Your Spouse Won’t Take the Divorce Forms?
If your spouse won’t take the papers when they’re handed to them, the server can drop them at your spouse’s feet. That’s good enough if the server can identify the individual as your spouse and tells them that those are divorce papers. The judge will determine whether that’s good enough.
How long do You Have to Serve Divorce Papers?
Usually, you have about 60 days from the time you file the divorce paperwork to serve them on your spouse. Given that you cannot serve within that period, you can ask for more time. However, you should request for the additional time before the 60 days end if possible. You can file a request in writing, or ask the judge in person during a court hearing.