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How to Serve Divorce Papers in Florida

Title: How to Serve Divorce Papers in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide


Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally draining process, and ensuring that the necessary legal procedures are followed is crucial. One of the most important steps in filing for divorce in Florida is serving divorce papers to your spouse. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to serve divorce papers in Florida, along with answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to the process.

Understanding the Basics:

Before delving into the process of serving divorce papers, it’s important to understand some key concepts related to divorce in Florida:

1. Residency Requirement: To file for divorce in Florida, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing.

2. No-Fault Divorce: Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither spouse needs to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. The only requirement is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Serving Divorce Papers in Florida:

1. Choose the Correct Forms: Begin by selecting the appropriate divorce forms for Florida. These can be obtained from the clerk of the circuit court in the county where you reside or through reputable online sources.

2. Fill Out the Forms: Carefully complete the required forms, ensuring accuracy and clarity. Seek legal assistance if needed to avoid any errors or omissions.

3. File the Forms with the Court: Once the forms are completed, submit them to the clerk of the circuit court in your county. Pay the required filing fee, or request a fee waiver if you are unable to afford it.

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4. Obtain the Summons: After filing the papers, the court will issue a summons. This document officially notifies your spouse about the divorce proceedings and provides them with a deadline to respond.

5. Serving the Papers: In Florida, divorce papers must be served to the non-filing spouse by an authorized individual. There are three common methods of service:

a. Personal Service: This involves physically handing the papers to your spouse. It can be done by hiring a professional process server, a sheriff’s deputy, or a competent adult who is not involved in the case.

b. Certified Mail: If your spouse is willing to accept the papers, you can send them via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Ensure that they sign the receipt, confirming they received the documents.

c. Publication: If your spouse cannot be located or refuses to accept the papers, you may be required to publish a notice of the divorce in a local newspaper for a specified period. This method is typically used as a last resort.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1. Can I serve divorce papers myself?

A: No, in Florida, you cannot personally serve the divorce papers. They must be served by an authorized individual, such as a process server, sheriff’s deputy, or a competent adult.

Q2. What happens if my spouse refuses to accept the papers?

A: If your spouse refuses to accept the papers, you can explore alternative methods of service, such as certified mail or publication. However, it is recommended to consult an attorney for guidance specific to your case.

Q3. Can I serve divorce papers via email or social media?

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A: No, serving divorce papers via email or social media is not valid in Florida. Traditional methods, such as personal service, certified mail, or publication, must be followed.

Q4. Can I serve divorce papers to my spouse at their workplace?

A: Serving divorce papers at the spouse’s workplace is generally discouraged, as it may cause unnecessary stress or embarrassment. It is advisable to use a professional process server or a sheriff’s deputy for personal service.


Serving divorce papers in Florida is a crucial step in the divorce process. Adhering to the legal requirements and correctly following the methods of service ensures that the proceedings are conducted fairly and efficiently. Remember, divorce can be complex, and seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney is always recommended to ensure your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.

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