Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Waiving Service of the Lawsuit in Divorce Cases

What does it mean to waive service of the lawsuit in divorce and what effect does it have? A suit for divorce is like any other lawsuit in that the person who filed the petition for divorce must serve a copy of the lawsuit on the other spouse. However, the spouse being sued for divorce can agree to waive service of the lawsuit by signing a waiver.

Depending on the circumstances, there can be several good reasons the parties may want to consider waiving service of the lawsuit, especially in a divorce case. First of all, it costs money to serve the lawsuit. You must hire an independent person (such as a process server or constable) to serve your spouse and they charge a fee for their services. So if your spouse agrees to waive service, you will save a little bit of money.

Second, it can be embarrassing to be served with a lawsuit. The process server may appear at your spouse’s place of employment or home to serve the lawsuit. This can result in embarrassment for some people. If both spouses want to get divorced and are on good terms, agreeing to waive service can spare potential embarrassment.

However, if you are the spouse being sued and are considering waiving service, you need to read the waiver very carefully. Waivers can contain different terms. Some waivers say that you are waiving service of the lawsuit ONLY, but want to be notified of everything else in the case. Other waivers say that you are waiving notice of everything. If you waive notice of everything, your spouse can schedule a hearing or trial and is not required to notify you. This can be very problematic.

Waivers certainly have their benefits, agreed upon divorce cases, but make sure you understand what you are agreeing to before you sign a waiver.

Blog prepared by Sarah Berry.