You’ve been served! Now what? 

Being served with papers in a divorce or other case, has gotten a fair amount of play in the movies when some character thinks it sounds like a great idea to avoid being served (or maybe it just makes a funny story).  Either way, chaos and laughter ensue while the process server tries to get the job done, right?

How much do you know about being served in a lawsuit?  Does it apply to divorce?  Here are 5 facts about being served to get you up to speed:

  1. Being served is a right of someone who has had a lawsuit filed against them.  This is a right held by the person who doesn’t know about the case.  This right requires the person filing the lawsuit (the Petitioner or Movant) to notify the other party to the lawsuit (the Respondent) that there is a case filed and follow certain rules and give them certain paperwork.

  2. Being served is a right of someone whose spouse is filing for divorce. While the idea of being served papers at work doesn’t exactly sound like something that is a right, it is.  No one is able to get a ‘secret’ divorce.  The party requesting the divorce has to follow certain rules including rules for the time for notice, the type of notice and the form it has to be in and how they show the court that the other party has received all of that.

  3. If your spouse has filed for divorce, you may either be served or have the opportunity to waive your right to be served.

  4. If you waive your right to be served you can make certain other choices about how the case proceeds and how you want to be notified.

  5. The papers can be served by the Sheriff’s office, but they can also be served by other people.  The Sheriff’s office isn’t the only option for this and there are people who do this as their business.

If you have been served there are certain things you need to do and you have a deadline.  Talk to a lawyer to get your questions answered about being served and about divorce, child support modification, enforcement or other family law issue.

Jill O’Connell is the owner of O’Connell Law Firm, P.C. and long time Denton County family law and divorce attorney  – 940-497-5454.

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2013 Child Support Update