When you file for divorce or custody, you are the plaintiff and your spouse or the other parent is the defendant. As the plaintiff, you must have copies of the court papers given to the defendant. This is called service. There are special rules for serving the first papers filed in any case. These are the summons, complaint, and anything else filed at that time. These must be served within 91 days of the date you filed them. First, decide who will do the service. You can’t serve the papers yourself. Someone.
Else must serve them. You can ask a friend or relative or you can hire a sheriff, police officer, or process server to do it. The server must be 18 years or older and must not be involved in your divorce or custody case. Second, decide how service will be done. The server can personally give the defendant a copy of your court papers or the server can mail the papers. If the server personally gives the papers to the defendant, the defendant can sign the Acknowledgement of Service on the back of.
The summons and give it to the server. If the defendant won’t sign the Acknowledgment of Service, the server will complete and sign the Proof of Service on the back of the summons. In most cases the server’s signature needs to be notarized. If the server mails the papers to the defendant, it must be done by registered or certified mail with delivery restricted to the defendant and a return receipt requested. The U.S. Postal Service provides these services for a fee. The defendant will have to sign the return receipt to get the papers. The return receipt is a green postcard that gets mailed back.
How to Serve Divorce or Custody Papers
To the server. When the server gets the green return receipt back, he or she completes and signs the Proof of Service on the back of the summons and attaches the return receipt. Remember, the server’s signature may have to be notarized. Finally, you or the server must file the proof of service or acknowledgement of service with the court where you filed your divorce papers. After serving the first papers in your divorce or custody case, service of other papers is simpler. You can serve the rest of the papers.
In your case by Mailing a copy to the defendant’s lastknown address Handing a copy to the defendant in person, or Leaving a copy at the defendant’s home with an adult who also lives there. Every time you do this, fill out and file a Proof of Service form saying which papers were served, and when. If you used our online interview to draft your court forms, you got several blank Proof of Service forms to help you do this. For more information about divorce or custody, see the toolkits in the Family section of the Michigan Legal Help website.