In order for the service of process to run smoothly, the sheriff needs to know how, when, and where to find your spouse. The more information you can give your lawyer and the sheriff about where to find your spouse, and the best time to find him or her, the easier it will be for the lawyer to get the papers served, thereby expediting your case and saving you money. The appendix contains a Sheriff Information Sheet which you may use as a guide for information to give the sheriff.
Give the sheriff a written schedule of where your spouse can be found. Include his or her home address and telephone number, and the days of the week and times he or she is ordinarily available. If you want the sheriff to serve your spouse at work, list his or her work address and telephone number as well as hours and days worked. If your spouse can be violent, or carries a gun, the sheriff needs to know that. If you suspect that your spouse will attempt to avoid service, the sheriff needs to know that too. If you don’t want the papers served during certain hours when the children are home, be specific in your instructions. If you need to be notified before service so that you can make sure you’re in a safe place when it happens, also let the sheriff know.
The sheriff will need a description of your spouse’s appearance: height, weight, hair color, race, whether your spouse has facial hair or wears glasses. Attach a photograph to the written description. The color, make and model of your spouse’s car is also helpful information, as is the license plate number.
Under certain circumstances, the sheriff may be able to simply leave the papers at your spouse’s house, as opposed to handing the papers to your spouse personally. Each trip that the sheriff makes costs you money, so make it as easy as possible for the sheriff to successfully serve your spouse. This can be a stressful time. Make sure you have all the information you need. Visit the Peace Talks resource center at http://www.peace-talks.com/resources.php. For another good article on being served with a divorce summons, see http://www.gitlin.com/pages/questions/qa_servedwithasummons.html.
Excerpted from Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001). For more information: http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com/.
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