How Does The Process Of Serving Divorce Papers Work?

Serving Divorce Papers

Married couples that want to end their marriages have to file for divorce. The spouse that files for divorce is the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent. To begin the divorce process in Oregon, the petitioner must file a petition for the dissolution of marriage in the county where either spouse resides. After the filing, the case must meet the residence requirements for the divorce suit to remain in Oregon courts. The case may meet the residence requirement in one of two ways:

• The couple solemnized (had a formal ceremony before witnesses) their marriage in Oregon, either spouse was a resident when the case began, and the ground for divorce is irreconcilable differences; or
• The couple did not get married in Oregon. The grounds for divorce are the same regardless of where the parties were married.

Under Oregon law, the petitioner must send the petition and summons to the respondent to give notice of the divorce. The petitioner has several methods under state law to serve the divorce papers on the respondent, including:

• Handing it to the respondent
• Mailing it to the respondent
• Electronic mail (email)
• Leaving it at the respondent's office
• Leaving it at the respondent's house or place of residence

When the petitioner exhausts all other methods of serving the divorce papers outlined in Oregon law, they may provide service by publication. This form of service involves publishing the summons in the newspaper in the county of the divorce filing. The newspaper must publish the summons three times in consecutive weeks.

The person who serves the summons and petition to the respondent must be at least 18 years old, a resident of Oregon and not a party to the divorce. The person may even be a professional process server whose job or business is to serve legal documents. The petitioner also has the option of having the sheriff's office deliver the divorce papers. State law requires the sheriff's office to serve legal documents and set forth the service fees.

In some cases, the petitioner may not have to serve the divorce papers formally by a process server. Instead, the respondent may agree to service by acceptance. By agreement, the respondent receives the summons and petition without the petitioner having to find someone to serve the documents. The respondent must show proof of acceptance of service in writing.

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