Every divorce case in Kentucky starts in the same way. A petition for dissolution of marriage is filed with the circuit clerk who issues a summons to the other party. The summons and a copy of the petition must then be served on the other party. There are many different ways the divorce papers can be served on the other party including:
Acceptance of Service: The easiest (and least expensive) way of serving papers on someone is for them to simply accept service of your pleadings. The person picks up a copy of the papers, many times from your attorney's office, and signs a form called an "Acceptance of Service" or an "Entry of Appearance and Waiver" which is filed with the Court. This often happens in uncontested divorces and in cases where the parties are on reasonably good terms with one another.
Service by Mail: Probably the second least expensive manner of serving the other person is to do it by mail. However, since the court has to be assured that the person who is named in the petition is the one who actually received the papers, service by mail must be effectuated by certified mail with a return receipt requested (that is the little green cards that the postal worker makes the recipient sign). The return receipt is then returned to the circuit clerk's office where it is filed with the court.
Personal Service: Personal service is just that, a person (normally a sheriff's deputy) takes the papers and physically hands them to the other person or someone of age at the person's residence. The serving officer then completes a "return of service" stating when the other party was served and returns it to the circuit clerk who files the return with the court. Occasionally, rather than using the sheriff's office, your attorney may request that the court appoint a special bailiff (a person over eighteen, usually a private investigator) to serve the other party.
Personal service may be the best method in certain circumstances such as when (a) you need to control the circumstances in which the other person is served, (b) you expect the other person to try to avoid service or is difficult to locate, or (c) if you need to be able to prove when and where the other person is served (such as when they are served at their new paramour's residence).
Warning Order Attorney: If you cannot locate the other person, you may need to ask that a warning order attorney be appointed to secure constructive service on the other party. Warning order attorneys were discussed in more detail in a previous post. While it is the slowest and probably most expensive option, it may be the only option.
Discuss the different service options with your attorney and rely on your attorney's advice on the best way to serve the other party in your case.
Photo courtesy of Yoel Ben-Avraham
Labels: acceptance of service, certified mail, entry of appearance, personal service, service of process, special bailiff, waiver