By Arizona Lawyer Julie LaBenz
Part 2: Ask + Agree + Use the Right Form + File the Form with the Court = Divorce Case Savings of $40 to $100 or more
Using the acceptance of service of process option to serve your spouse with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) reduces legal costs.
Over and over again I find the outset of a divorce to be the most confusing and dramatic part of the overall process.
Deciding to take the legal steps to end a marriage involves strong emotions and a great deal of confusion about what each spouse is entitled to and how the divorce process actually works.
Plus, at the outset each spouse faces the difficult decision of whether to invest in a lawyer and then being sure to find the right lawyer. (For more on this click here to access Part 1 of this 5 part series).
Often, rather than letting emotion control, it’s best to open a constructive dialogue. The divorcing spouses have a common problem to solve and during each stage of the divorce they each decide whether to work with or against each other to solve this problem.
The decision of whether to work with or against each other during the divorce process is likely the number one influence on the overall cost.
Once I identified this key cost factor in my practice, I began to find ways to build an effective line of communication with the respondent spouse from the start of each case.
One way I assist my clients in opening an effective dialogue as well as save money by wisely utilizing divorce procedural avenues available to all litigants, is through asking the respondent spouse to sign an Acceptance of Service pleading and then filing it with the court.
If you’re confused by this term “service” or “service of process,” I’m referring to the required procedural step that a person that initiates a divorce case must take in order to notify their spouse of the divorce filing. In other words, the opposing party must be informed that the lawsuit has been filed and the rules of procedure explain the legally acceptable methods to show the opposing party received notice of the suit and a copy of the pleadings.
One way to serve a spouse with notice of a divorce filing is to hire a process server. The cost of a process server depends on the number of attempts made to contact the respondent spouse. Service of process generally costs $40 to $100 or more.
The petitioner spouse can avoid paying a process server by utilizing the acceptance of service option.
The procedural rules enable the petitioner spouse to hand deliver or mail a copy of the divorce court papers to the respondent spouse who then signs an Acceptance of Service pleading in front of a notary public. The Acceptance of Service form is then filed with the court.
By utilizing the acceptance of service option, the petitioner spouse saves $40 to $100 or more in service of process fees.
Although sometimes it just isn’t possible to use the acceptance of service option because, for example, there’s been a complete communication breakdown between the spouses or the whereabouts of the respondent spouse are unknown, in most cases this is a relatively simply way to save money while also opening a constructive dialogue.
With there being so many steps involved in properly filing for divorce plus the fact that strong emotions and confusion abound at this time, it’s easy to make case mistakes or deepen the spousal communication breakdown. As a result, it’s key spouses empower themselves with legal information and individualized divorce case advice.
Thinking about handling your own divorce using the court’s fill in the blank forms? Already started using the forms and running into problems? Sign up for Julie’s DIVORCE SCHOOL and empower yourself with legal information aimed at helping spouses achieve a fair and efficient divorce case outcome. To learn more and to sign up, click here.
Arizona Lawyer Julie LaBenz has been practicing law since 2006. Currently, you’ll find her in Sedona, AZ handling divorce, child custody, estate planning, probate, business planning and DUI defense cases.
Disclaimers: 1) This article contains legal information only and is not legal advice; 2) By reading this article, Julie LaBenz does not become your lawyer; 3) Julie LaBenz is licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona in the jurisdictions she’s admitted to practice.