Serving Divorce Papers Abroad: A Primer

It is no secret that divorce can be difficult. Rarely is the process seamless. If your soon-to-be ex-spouse is in another country, your life at home may have less emotion and drama but serving divorce papers will be more difficult than doing so domestically. This is because proper service is much more complicated than just sending documents by mail. In fact, to serve divorce papers overseas there are specific steps that must be followed to ensure they are served both effectively and legally. It is important to understand that each required step is determined by where your spouse is located and the jurisdiction of that location. Below is a brief primer on how to serve divorce papers overseas.

Serving Divorce Papers: Methods

Generally, divorce papers must be directly and personally served upon the non-filing spouse. It is also a general rule that divorce papers may not be served via mail or fax. If your spouse is living in a foreign country, you have at least the three possible options below for service:

● Waiver: If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are still on good terms, you can ask them to waive their right to personal service of divorce papers. Upon filing the signed waiver of service with the court, you will be allowed to serve the divorce papers by mail, email, or fax.

● Via Publication: If you are aware of where your soon-to-be ex-spouse is located, you can ask the court for permission to serve him or her via publication. Through this method, you will pay to post the notice of the divorce in a local newspaper for a particular number of days. By doing so, the court presumes that your soon-to-be ex-spouse has been properly served.

● Process Server: If your soon-to-be ex-spouse is being uncooperative and will not waive service, you can likely hire a process server in the country of residence to personally serve the divorce papers. Another method is preferable, however, because hiring a foreign process server can be pricey. Steps to Follow First, file the petition and summons with the court taking into consideration where most of your marital property is located. If you have multiple properties, choose the location that holds the most properties that you two jointly own. If you are seeking marital property located in another country, know the service laws there.

Second, find your soon-to-be ex-spouse and where he or she is located. You must follow the law
of the overseas jurisdiction and, thus, know and follow the legal way of serving divorce papers
overseas. In order to avoid delays and increased costs, it is critical to know exactly where your
partner is located.
Third, decide on your method of service. Consider several factors including whether or not your
partner will cooperate or evade service, the laws of the applicable jurisdiction, whether the
country is a member of the Hague Service Convention, and if the divorce papers need to be
translated into the native language of the home country.
We Supply Your International Service Needs
If you need to serve divorce papers on your spouse who is located overseas or need to serve any
foreign defendant you are suing, contact Ancillary Legal today. Our team has vast experience
with providing full-service legal support domestically and internationally, including service of
process. We can also assist with your deposition, court reporting, transcription, and videography needs at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting.