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What if My Spouse Evades Service of Divorce Papers?

Posted On May 18, 2022 In Divorce

If your spouse is intentionally evading the service of divorce papers in Arizona, do not despair. You can still effectively achieve your divorce goals. Arizona does require serving your spouse with divorce papers but offers multiple ways to do so when a spouse is intentionally or unintentionally “unavailable.”

Service of Process in Arizona

Anyone who files a petition for divorce in Arizona, the petitioner, must serve their spouse with the corresponding petition for the dissolution of marriage and court summons. These divorce documents provide the recipient spouse, the respondent, a twenty-day period in which to file a response with the court. If the respondent lives outside of Arizona, they have thirty days.

The petitioner has 120 days after filing their petition and summons with the court to complete service of process upon the respondent. Otherwise, the divorce case may be dismissed.

Service by Acceptance

Service by acceptance is personal service by the petitioner of the divorce papers to the other spouse. The other spouse signs an “Acceptance of Service” form before a notary and returns the form to the petitioner.

The divorce documents can be served by the petitioner in person, in the presence of a notary, or through the mail.

Service by a Sheriff or Constable

Personal service by a sheriff or constable requires the petitioner to contact the sheriff’s department where the respondent lives and schedule service by an officer. The officer will fill out and return proof of service.

Service by a Process Server

Service by a process server is when a petitioner retains a private, registered process server to serve the divorce papers to the respondent at their work, home, or another location.

Service by Certified Mail

Service by certified mail requires the divorce papers to be sent with a return receipt requested and restricted delivery meaning only the respondent can sign for the package. A receipt is returned to the petitioner with a signed receipt indicating service.

Service by Publication

In service by publication, a copy of the summons is placed in the newspaper along with information for the respondent on how to get a copy of the filed petition and other divorce documents. Service by publication is only available in cases of evasion for divorce and parenting decisions, not for issues that require personal jurisdiction.

Service by publication is used as a final effort after exhausting other means of service. This method requires judicial permission upon a motion and proof of reasonably diligent efforts to use other forms of service.

Reasonably diligent efforts may include the following:

Verification that the respondent no longer lives at their previous address(es);
Affidavits of the respondent’s family, friends, or coworkers regarding the respondent’s address;
Public information records for the respondent’s spouse’s address;
Proof of intentional evasion of service.

If service by publication is approved, the publication must be run at least once a week for four consecutive weeks.

Alternate Service

In egregious cases of evasion, the court may approve an alternate service method. Any alternate service method requires permission from the court, or it will not be considered valid.

Default Divorce Judgment

A default divorce judgment is an option for petitioners whose spouses refuse or fail to respond to the petition and summons in the legally allotted time. Should you need options for service or would like to discuss a default divorce, contact an experienced Arizona divorce attorney.

Speak with an Experienced Arizona Divorce Attorney

An Arizona divorce attorney, like ours at Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC, can assist you with any type of divorce or divorce proceeding. Whether your spouse is evading service, contesting a divorce, or its terms, we want to help you make the best decisions for your future.

At Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC, we assist with conflict over child custody and support arrangements and offer alternatives to courtroom litigation for problem resolution. Contact our Chandler divorce attorneys today to learn more about our approach to divorce and its issues.