I’m looking for advice on divorce and whether I was properly served for my divorce. I was served with divorce papers while in the courthouse for an unrelated matter.
I read that according to my state’s divorce laws these papers may not be served while in transit to and from the courthouse and while on the court’s property.
So was I properly served? Should I contest the service process?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Michigan divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
Your question is specific to “service of process,” or the original delivery of the documents constituting a lawsuit. You correctly note that, in some circumstances, services of process is invalid if it occurs in a courthouse. This is the rule for many states.
However, these circumstances are extremely limited. Service of process is invalid if the person was at the courthouse because that person’s presence was necessary for a particular proceeding and service could not have been effected on that person in any other way had that person’s presence not been required at the courthouse.
This means, if the person could have been served in any other way, such as by certified mail to that person’s residential address or by personal service at the diner across the street, then service in the courthouse is valid.
This rule basically protects those individuals who are within the court’s jurisdiction, that is, its physical reach, for special reasons and would not have any other reason to be present. This is not most individuals.
More importantly, so long as the individual had notice of the lawsuit and an opportunity to respond to it, the court does not have to dismiss the lawsuit even if service of process was invalid. All that is constitutionally required is notice and an opportunity to be heard.
Therefore, it is likely that service was effective on you. Even if it were not, you should consider the benefits (and costs) for contesting service versus the benefits of moving forward with the lawsuit to protect your rights as a man and father.
You should immediately speak to a mens divorce attorney about the specifics of the case, the reasons and methods of service, and the pros and cons of contesting service or accepting service and moving forward with the case. There are likely time limitations before a response has to be filed after the date of service as well.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.