Service is an important step in the divorce process. It is a legal term that refers to giving the other spouse official notice of the divorce. This is achieved by providing them with the forms and an opportunity to respond.
Four of the more common service methods used in Georgia include the following.
#1. Acknowledgement of service
This option is helpful for uncontested divorces. It basically involves mailing the packet of information which includes the Acknowledgement of Service and Summons as well as a Summons form. The first form basically says that the receiving party does not require official service, that they accept the process and are ready to move forward.
Upon receipt, the receiving party is to get the paperwork notarized, make three copies, pay a filing fee, and send a copy to the filing party.
#2. Service by sheriff
For this option the packet that is sent to the other spouse includes a Certificate of Service as well as a Summons. The person who needs to provide service will take three copies of the paperwork to the sheriff’s office and pay a fee, generally $50, to have officials give the paperwork to the other party.
The sheriff’s office will then go to the home of the other party to provide the paperwork. The sheriff will notify you when service is complete.
#3. Service by process server
This option is best for contested divorces or in situations where the filing party is concerned the other party will attempt to avoid service. It uses a professional who will serve the other party and includes the same paperwork as used for service by sheriff, the Certificate of Service and Summons documents.
You provide the professional with information to help better ensure they are successful in completing service. Perhaps you know the other party is generally home on weekdays between five and seven p.m. This special process server will go to the other party’s home at that time and attempt to provide service.
The process server files paperwork with the court once service is complete.
#4. Service by publication
Although not often used, this option is helpful for those who do not know where the other party currently lives or in situations where the party has never lived in the state of Georgia. It requires more paperwork, the Motion for Service by Publication, Affidavit of Due Diligence, and Order for Services of Publication. Once ready, the filing party takes the paperwork to the Court Clerk. The Clerk files the paperwork and runs a publication in the newspaper once every other week for a total of four publications. Once complete, the filing party can move forward with the divorce.
It is important to note that those who choose this option are not eligible for child support or alimony.