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Filing Proof of Service in a Divorce Case

Authored By: Children's Law Center
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I've gotten my spouse served with the divorce papers. What do I do next?

  • You must file written proof of service with the court. It is not enough for you to tell the judge how your spouse was served – written proof of service must be filed.  Written proof of service is sometimes called an affidavit of service or a return of service.

What exactly do I need to file?

  • The person who served the papers must sign a statement that the papers were served and with information about when and how the papers were served.
  • Read the sections below to find out more about how to do this depending on whether service was done by hand-delivery, certified mail, publication, posting, alternative means, or acknowledgement.
  • You can get forms for this from the Family Court Central Intake Center or the Family Court Self-Help Center. It is preferable to use the court form to make sure that the necessary information is included.

If the papers were hand-delivered to my spouse, who signs the affidavit of service?

  • The person who delivered the papers to your spouse must sign the affidavit. Notarization is not required if you use the court form.
  • The affidavit 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.
  • Click here for an affidavit of service form that you can fill out on the computer. You will need to print it out, have the server sign it, and then file it with the court. The form can also be filled out by hand.

If the papers were mailed by certified mail, return receipt, who signs the affidavit of service?

  • The person who mailed the papers signs the affidavit. If you mailed the papers, you sign the affidavit. Notarization is not required if you use the court form.
  • 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 form you can fill out on the computer. You must still print it out and file it with the court. You can also fill it out by hand.

If notice was published in the newspaper, how do I prove service?

The newspaper should mail the necessary affidavit. The newspaper may send the affidavit to the court or to you. Check with the newspaper to find out what procedure they follow. If the affidavit is sent to you, file it at the Family Court Central Intake Center.

If notice was posted in the courthouse, how do I prove service?

The Family Court clerk's office will take care of posting the notice and recording proof of service in the court record.

If I want to serve by first-class mail with acknowledgement, how do I prove service?

The acknowledgement form, signed by your spouse, is the proof of service.  File the acknowledgement at the Family Court Central Intake Center.

If the judge gave permission for an alternative method of service, how do I prove service?

That will depend on the kind of service the judge approved.  You can ask the judge what kind of proof is needed.

What happens next?

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

Last Review and Update: May 16, 2019