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Serving a spouse for divorce: Your options

You and your spouse no longer get along. You've separated and live in different homes. You have your spouse's phone number and forwarding address, which is good news, because you need to serve a divorce petition to your spouse before you can begin your divorce.

This petition is a legal document that must be handed to the person in question. The document varies based on location but typically includes the identification of each spouse and his or her address, the place and date of marriage, the grounds for divorce, a declaration for how the petitioner wants to settle the marriage's finances, custody and other factors and an acknowledgment of time lived apart, if necessary. If you have children, they will also need to be identified in the petition.

Every state requires that the petition is legally served to the spouse who did not file for divorce. This could be difficult in some cases, particularly if you do not know the location of your spouse.

Depending on the amount of time that has passed, you may be able to receive an exception from the court and proceed without serving the divorce document. In most cases, you'll need to serve the document within the state's required time. If your spouse avoids taking the petition from you, you may wish to hire a third party to deliver the petition so he or she is unaware of what the document is and you have proof of delivery.

Your California family law attorney can help you serve a spouse for divorce so that you can get the process moving.

Source: FindLaw, "Filing and Serving the Divorce/Dissolution Petition," accessed May 15, 2018

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