Washington DC

Filing Proof of Service in a Divorce Case

Authored By: Children's Law Center
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FAQ

I've gotten my spouse served with the divorce papers.  What do I do next?  

You must file proof of service with the court. This is how you notify the court that your spouse has been properly served.

What is 'proof of service'? What do I have to file?
  • The person who served the papers must sign a statement that the papers were served, and the statement must be filed with the court. This statement is called an affidavit of service or a return of service.
  • Read the sections below to find out more about how to do an affidavit of service depending on whether service was done by hand-delivery, certified mail, publishing or posting.
  • You can get affidavit of service forms from the Family Court Central Intake Center or the Family Court Self-Help Center. It is preferable to use the court form if possible to make sure that the necessary information is included.
If the papers were delivered to my spouse, who signs the affidavit of service?
  • The person who delivered the papers to your spouse must sign and notarize the affidavit.
  • The statement should indicate what papers were served and the name of the person to whom the papers were delivered (which should be your spouse, or a person of suitable age who resides with your spouse). It should also include the date, approximate time, and location that the papers were served. It should also state that the person who delivered the papers is over 18 and not a party to the case.
If the papers were mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, who signs the affidavit of service?
  • The person who mailed the papers signs and notarizes the affidavit.
  • If you mailed the papers, you sign the affidavit.
  • The affidavit should indicate what papers were mailed and when.
  • You must attach the certified mail slip and the return receipt (green card) to the affidavit.
  • Click here for an affidavit of service you can fill out on the computer. You will still need to file it with the court.
If notice was published in the newspaper, what do I do?

The newspaper will mail you the necessary affidavit (check with the newspaper to be sure). The newspaper may send the affidavit to the court or to you. If it is sent to you, file it with the court.

If notice was posted in the courthouse, what do I do?

The clerk's office will file the necessary papers indicating that notice has been posted.

What happens next?

Read the section on What Happens After I Have Served the Divorce Papers On My Spouse?