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Am I entitled to be served my divorce papers?

Brandon, FL |
Filed under: Divorce Divorce court

My wife has filed for a divorce, and I have not yet been served any papers, and she is refusing to give me any information about the contents of the divorce, nor will she give me any court dates for it. I received a pamplet in the mail saying that a divorce had been filed against me, that is how I learned of the divorce. I called the county court house where she filed, and they said that I would not be served. I am afraid that she has put something in there that I may not approve of, will she be granted what she is requesting if I am unable to sign, or attend court?

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

You should go to the courthouse and ask to see the court file. That should tell you all the info that you need to know.

The answering of this question is just friendly advise, and in no way legal advise. For legal advise you should contact an attorney with detailed information about your situation, so he or she can better assist you.

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Posted

Important disclaimer: I'm not licensed to practice in Florida, so I can't give specific advice about Florida law. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your state. This is just general discussion about common legal rules.

That said: every state, to my knowledge, follows the same basic principle: a judgment cannot be entered against you if you have not been served in some way. Before your wife could get any relief from the Court, she would have to show that she's at least made a good faith effort to provide you with the petition she's filed. For her to refuse to provide you with the petition is exceedingly counterproductive.

That said, you may as well go to your county courthouse and look up the case. Most states have decent (if very old) computer databases that can search for cases by the names of the people involved. Many county courthouses have help desks or clerks who can guide you through the process, if you're patient and wait in line (they're usually overworked and underpaid, so be nice). Once you get the case number, you can get the file, see everything in it, and prepare a response. You should have an attorney's help with this - some of the issues raised can be complicated, especially if you have any children together, or own any substantial property together.

Nothing posted on this site is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin, Northwest Law Office, 2075 SW First Avenue, Suite 2J, Portland, OR 97201 | Telephone: 503-227-0965 | Facsimile: 503-345-0926 | Email: jay@northwestlawoffice.com | Online: www.northwestlawoffice.com

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

The information provided is very helpful, but she and I live in 2 different states..can I still look at the court house where I live and find information on the case?

Jay Bodzin

Jay Bodzin

Posted

You'd have to look in the courthouse where she filed. A courthouse in Florida will not have any information about a case filed in Georgia, or wherever. There are rules about which state you're supposed to file in - quite complicated rules - but there's no guarantee that she followed them. You can try calling a far-away courthouse and asking for help from the family law clerk.

Posted

If your wife filed for divorce I can only think of one way you would not be served and that is if your wife did not ask that a summons be issued and then for whatever reason failed to have you served. You must be served before the clock starts running against you. It would not surprise me at all if she "put something in there" you won't approve of. That's almost certain. But until you are served, it's not going to have much effect. Most people don't understand anything about this and have no idea what they're doing, but if I were you I'd get a lawyer to check into it anyway. Especially since divorce is imminent and you're going to need one anyway.

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Posted

Not only are you entitled, it's mandatory. The caveat is that there are several different ways this can be done. You can be served personally, in some matters process can be served on another adult resident in your household, you can have an attorney accept service on your behalf and in some matters the petitioner can effect service by publication, (by publishing in a newspaper for 4 consecutive weeks). I would definitely contact the clerk for the court this matter was filed in to see if the matter is proceeding as though you've been served. You don't want to have a default entered against you.

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Posted

correct. for the court to have personal jurisdiction you have to be served.

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