Effective Service of Process in Divorce Matters


In any type of case, service of process is an important part of the legal process and needs to be handled ethically, effectively and according to the rules. But the emotions involved in family law and divorce matters, as well as the effect it can have on children involved, means these cases need to be handled with extra care. For law firms whose clients’ next steps in life are hinging on the service of their divorce documents, it’s extremely important to be aware of the impact their choice of process server can have. 

At DGR Legal, our process servers are experienced in dealing with family law matters and as employees are all trained on best practices. Here are just a few of the things to watch out for:

Evading service

Divorce matters are notorious for individuals evading service. Often times in divorce the feelings leading up to the decision have been building over time, leading to high levels of discontent. Because of this, people can go to extreme lengths to avoid service to make things difficult for their spouse. 

In other situations, there are individuals who truly are not ready to divorce and hope to reconcile. In an effort to prevent the divorce from moving forward, they avoid process servers at all costs. Some people go so far as to leave for work early, come home late, or entirely change their schedules to avoid service. 

No matter what the reason, evading service when one party is seeking to divorce can increase stress on the petitioner who simply wants to get the ball moving. There are often times instances where the element of surprise is key – a good process server works hard to effectuate service on the first attempt, knowing that may be their one and only shot. To make it happen, our team is trained to ask all the questions needed upfront to make sure they know when they typically come and go, what they look like and what to expect (although we know to always expect the unexpected!). 

Timing of service and children

When children are involved in a divorce proceeding, many times people will ask that the children not be home when their spouse is completed. We’ve heard of cases where other process servers have ignored the times the spouse would be at home, causing understandable distress for the children. Divorce is a difficult time, and as process servers, our notification of the court proceedings is meant to uphold due process – not to make things more difficult or to make things harder for the children. 

Our servers know to take every measure necessary to follow clients’ requests and to avoid serving divorce papers when kids are around. 

Domestic abuse situations

In cases where there is domestic abuse, it’s imperative to be extremely sensitive to the timing of these services. Many times a safety plan is in place for the individual and serving too early can run the risk of notifying the spouse before the safety plan has been enacted, putting the individual in danger. While getting a service completed is important, nothing is more important than the well-being of someone. 

Choose a process server who understands the situation and is able to hold on to the papers until notified and can work with you to complete a rush service when necessary. 

At DGR Legal, our intake teams has a specific set of questions they ask in every divorce matter based on our experience of what can influence serve time and ethical service, while making sure it’s completed based on the law firm’s client’s wishes. If you’re a family law lawyer, be sure your process server is experienced not just in general service, but in divorce and family law matters specifically to ensure the best possible outcome for your clients. 

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