How to Serve Divorce Papers in NJ: A Step-by-Step Guide
Going through a divorce can be a challenging and emotional process. One of the initial steps to initiate a divorce in New Jersey is serving divorce papers to your spouse. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to serve divorce papers in NJ and answer frequently asked questions to help you navigate through this process.
Step 1: File for Divorce
Before serving divorce papers, you must first file a complaint for divorce with the appropriate county court in New Jersey. This document will outline the reasons for the divorce and the relief sought.
Step 2: Obtain the Summons
Once you file the complaint, you will receive a summons from the court. This document is required to serve divorce papers to your spouse.
Step 3: Choose a Method of Service
In New Jersey, divorce papers can be served through various methods:
1. Personal Service: The papers can be handed directly to your spouse by a non-party individual who is at least 18 years old and not involved in the divorce.
2. Substitute Service: If personal service is not possible, you may leave the papers at your spouse’s residence with an adult who resides there and mail a copy of the papers to their last known address.
3. Service by Mail: You may send the papers by certified mail, return receipt requested, to your spouse’s last known address.
Step 4: Complete an Affidavit of Service
After serving the divorce papers, the person who served them must complete an Affidavit of Service form. This document confirms the date, time, and method of service, which should be filed with the court.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Can I serve divorce papers myself?
Yes, you can serve divorce papers yourself, as long as you are not a party to the divorce and over 18 years old.
2. What if my spouse avoids being served?
If your spouse actively avoids being served, you can seek permission from the court for alternate methods of service, such as publication in a newspaper or posting the papers at their last known address.
3. Can I serve divorce papers electronically?
No, electronic service is not currently allowed in New Jersey for divorce papers. Traditional methods must be used.
4. Can I serve divorce papers by email?
No, serving divorce papers by email is not permissible in New Jersey. You must use one of the approved methods mentioned earlier.
5. Can I serve divorce papers at my spouse’s workplace?
Serving divorce papers at your spouse’s workplace is generally not recommended. It may be seen as unprofessional or embarrassing for them. It is best to serve the papers at their residence.
6. Can I serve divorce papers during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, divorce papers can still be served during the pandemic. However, it is advisable to consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with any temporary regulations or changes.
7. How long does my spouse have to respond to the divorce papers?
In New Jersey, your spouse has 35 days from the date they receive the divorce papers to respond.
8. What happens if my spouse refuses to respond?
If your spouse fails to respond within the specified time frame, you can request a default judgment from the court.
9. Can I serve divorce papers if my spouse is out of state?
Yes, you can serve divorce papers on an out-of-state spouse. However, it is crucial to consult an attorney to ensure compliance with the laws of the other state regarding service of process.
Serving divorce papers is a crucial step in initiating the divorce process in New Jersey. It is essential to follow the correct procedures to ensure that the papers are served appropriately. If you have any further questions or concerns, it is recommended to consult with an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process smoothly.