08 Sep How to Serve Your Divorce Papers Privately
The kick-off step in any divorce is serving divorce papers to your soon to be ex. It can be a shock to some spouses. It can make some extremely angry. And for almost all, it can be embarrassing. But if you want to make it more civil and less traumatic for the other party, you can do so by avoiding the process altogether and allowing them to waive service.
“Service”, i.e. providing a copy of the divorce petition to the other party, is required in Missouri. There are basically (3) ways to serve divorce papers.
(1) The Sheriff
This is the most commonly used method. The initiating party pays a fee to the Sheriff and gives them contact information for the other party. The Sheriff then tries to locate them and gives them the paperwork. It is the safest for each party since law enforcement is the one couriering the paperwork. However, it is also the most disruptive. Coworkers and neighbors tend to notice when uniformed police officers are asking for you.
(2) A Special Process Server
A Special Process Server is appointed by the Court to serve the papers when the other party is hard to find. They have a few investigative tools at their disposal and also have more flexibility in the times of day that they can serve the paperwork. It is usually more expensive than the Sheriff, but looks considerably better than having a police officer show up at your work.
(3) Waiver of Personal Service
If you are on cooperating terms with your spouse and would like to avoid a uniformed officer or stranger showing up at their work or house, then you can opt for this option. Your Attorney will draft the paperwork, which is a waiver of personal service verifying that they have received and are entering an appearance in the case. It has to be notarized when the other spouse signs it. Typically, your Attorney will call the soon to be ex and have them come up to their office to sign and notarize the papers. This not only allows your spouse to select the best time for them, but it also spares them the embarrassment of formal service.
It’s important to pick your battles in life. If you and your spouse are on cooperating or semi-civil terms, then a Waiver of Personal Service could go a long way to starting your divorce action with a collaborative feel. You should talk with your Attorney to see if this is an option in your case.