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I am filing for divorce; how do I serve the papers?

When a person in Michigan has made the decision to file for a divorce, the paperwork must first be filed with the court, and then copies of those papers must be served on the other party. The other party must be personally served with the papers within 91 days. If the papers are not served in a timely manner, the file may be dismissed.

Although it may be tempting to serve the papers yourself, it is important to understand that the party that initiates the divorce cannot be the one who serves the papers. In most cases, it is possible to pay the local sheriff's department or police to serve the papers. If not, a relative or friend who is over 18 years of age and not involved in the case can also serve the papers.

Service is deemed successful when a copy of the divorce papers is personally handed to the other party. Service of papers is possible by mailing in the divorce papers via certified or registered mail. But, in this case, only the soon-to-be ex-spouse can sign and return the receipt. However, if the other party refuses to sign the certified mail card, then service is not deemed successful.

In some cases, the party filing the divorce papers may not know the whereabouts of their spouse. In such cases, after service has been attempted several times, then a motion for alternate service should be filed. A judge must okay the motion for alternate service, and the other party must be served with the papers for the divorce to proceed.

Those who have inquiries regarding the divorce process, serving of papers and any other family law issues may benefit from talking with a family law attorney.

Source: Michigan Legal Help, "How to Serve Divorce Papers," Accessed May 11, 2015

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