In any type of lawsuit, Washington law requires that all parties receive proper notice of the court proceedings. There are strict rules that govern what constitutes proper notice, or “service of process.” Service gives your spouse the opportunity to respond to your divorce petition within a certain timeframe. If you do not comply with these rules, then your divorce cannot be finalized. No action on your divorce petition will occur until your spouse receives service of the divorce petition.
If you and your spouse are relatively amicable and both are ready to get divorced, then your spouse can file a signed joinder to the divorce, which satisfies the service requirement. If your spouse is not so cooperative, then you will have to have him or her served. Technically, anyone over the age of 18 can serve divorce papers, but in most cases, a licensed process server or your local sheriff’s department will personally serve the divorce papers on your spouse. There is a fee for this service. If you are able to work with your spouse, your spouse can also accept the papers and sign an Acceptance of Service form, which you then file with the clerk’s office as proof of service in your divorce case.
If your spouse is attempting to avoid the divorce by refusing to make himself or herself available for service, then there are provisions under Washington law to allow service other than the basic rule. The court can allow you to serve by U.S. mail, by publication in a newspaper, or any means that would give notice and an opportunity to respond. Although we have not seen it in our neck of the woods, some other states have allowed service via Facebook in cases where the other party was hiding in the real world but active on social media.
We know how difficult and complicated divorce cases can be. Contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today and we will show you how we can help with your Washington divorce case. Our attorneys focus their practice primarily on family law, so we are sure to have the skills that you need for proper representation in your divorce case. We are here to answer your questions, settle your concerns, and assist you through the often difficult process of contested divorce and family law cases.