Serving the Divorce Petition

Serving the Divorce Petition

In order to get a divorce, you have to personally serve your spouse with the Petition for Divorce.  If you don’t comply with the service requirements, your divorce case can eventually be dismissed from Court and you may have to start over. So what do you do if you don’t know where that spouse is? Believe it or not, this is a relatively common problem.

Often, couples separate years before one or the other actually want to go through with a divorce.  It is common for couples to put off getting a divorce for many reasons, but most often it is either for financial reasons or simply out of convenience. Generally, until one party wants to re-marry, many people don’t feel a sense of urgency in getting a divorce, so people part ways and frequently lose all contact.

Many times, a married couple will not speak for years and honestly not know where their spouse is to serve with divorce papers. This won’t prevent someone from getting a divorce, however. The law has developed ways for people to get a divorce even if they legitimately cannot locate their spouse, but it is not always easy.

Because you are required to personally serve your spouse with the divorce Petition, you bear the burden of proving to the Court that you have diligently tried to find your spouse, and cannot. You will need to show that you have made reasonable attempts to contact friends and family, tried last known addresses and phone numbers, and still cannot contact your spouse. Additionally, if you know where your spouse is and can prove that they are actively avoiding being served, the Court can waive the personal service requirement.

Once you have proven that your spouse is either avoiding service or that you are unable to locate them, the Court can grant you permission to serve your spouse by “alternate service,” which can have several forms. Utah Rules of Civil Procedure state that the Court shall order service of process by “means reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise the interested parties . . . to the extent reasonably possible or practicable.” U.R.C.P. 4(d)(4).

Courts have permitted service by social media and email, but the most common is service by publication.  Once the Court has granted you permission to serve your spouse by publication, they will specify how often and for how long you need to publish the notice.

Once you have completed the requirements the Court set out, you will be considered to have properly served your absent spouse and can proceed with the divorce. Asking the Court for permission to serve your spouse by alternate means can be a difficult, and fact-specific problem.  Hepworth & Associates’ attorneys can help you navigate your divorce, especially if you believe you will have issues serving your spouse.

Leave a comment


  • Call Now (801) 872-2222
    Free Case Review
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Test Ring Me

Client Reviews

More than 100% confident in Michael and John. Both have represented me in business law. Never seen anything they can't handle.read more
I love these guys, They do such a good job with all of my legal needs. They handle my business and family law. There strategies are top notch. Well done. And thank you.read more
Ryan Blake and Sherri Strong were so great to work with during my divorce. They were very responsive and understanding of my situation. I would highly reccommend using Hepworth and Associates.read more
My man was Tyler. He did an excellent job for me on all counts, his staff was very prompt to my inquiries. I always felt well taken care. I feel like i gained a friend😎read more
Mike was fast in responding to my situation. So far they have been great to respond to any and all questions. Will update later.read more
I used Micheal to get out of a commercial lease, he saved me $10,000 a month plus help me get money back from a former business partner that strapped me with an additional $42,000 in debt. Thanks Michael Hepworth really appreciate the help.read more
They are the best at what they do, very professional. I haven’t ever felt like just a client, I felt like they actually cared and tried as a great mentor when I was lost, willing to be their and give advice on a friendly level to. And although I wasn’t the easiest to deal with late on payment and keep wanting to hold off, Hepworth was always their on time to deal the best. Give it up for my man Ryan b he’s awsome and very fair. Hepworth is the way to go. Great service is what you can expect.read more
When I started looking for a divorce lawyer I was nervous because I had been married for 20 years (2nd marriage). So I googled inexpensive divorce lawyers and guess what, your law firm came up first. Coincidence? Maybe because I normally would look further but I had a good feeling about this firm. Turns out I was right. Ben Lawrence got in touch with me he listened to my story gave me his advice went over costs and how it worked and I was hooked. He was very intelligent, knowledgeable, and willing to help me the whole way through the process. He was the best person/lawyer I could have ever found. And I went with my gut!! He is the best!!!read more
Hepworth & Associates is amazing!!!! I would recommend them to all of my family and friends. They did a great job at communicating with me through the whole process and made sure my case was handled quickly and professionally. Sonja was very knowledgeable and made me feel at ease through the whole process. She answered all of my questions very quickly and made sure I knew what to expect through the process. I am so grateful I went with Hepworth!read more
I called just to see if anything could be done for my situation. They had an easy form for me to fill out for the attorney to review before deciding if I should come in for a free consultation. It was so easy and the secretary was very professional and kind. Even if I don't have a case, I will definitely be contacting them in the future if the need arises.read more
I have full confidence in their abilities and expertise.
I was facing a powerful multibiollion dollar corporation in a law suit! Me Hepworth and his associates did an outstanding job in representing me! I am so pleased with my representation! They kept me informed the entire time! They were sensitive to my concerns! They helped me get a very good settlement!If you want a bulldog attorney on your side, I can’t give you a better recommendation than Michael Hepworth and associates!read more
yes!! they saved me. I was being sued.they were wonderful and quickly got the other party to drop the case that should never have been started. they let us make payments on the lawyer fees. tyread more
This was the first time I have ever experienced any situation were I needed legal help! Mike and John were more help then I ever expected. They answered any and every question the first time even if it was the same question over and over again. I never felt like I was bothering any of them! I would use them in the future and highly recommend this office!!!read more
They were a godsend for me. I had looked for an attorney to help me for several years and they were the best. I won a difficult case dealing with homeowners association.read more
Exceptional staff. Do everything to help you with your case. Would definitely recommend going here for your legal needsread more
Fast response. Willing to answer any and all questions and gets back with you quick. I will be adding more to this review as time goes on.read more
I just wanna say a HUGGEEE thank you to Chelsea and Michael Hepworth in helping me getting my case dismissed!!!!! not only was Michael patient and understood my situation but he also made sure i wasn’t railroaded at the end of the day!! Chelsea did such a great job in gathering my information together and help me with my pay plan! I had to pay excessive fees for my impound fees and was short on funds and she completely understand where i was coming from! i recommend these guys to you not only are they SHARP but they get it down, my case is now dismissed COMPLETELY!! thank you Hepworth & Associates!!!read more
These guys are excellent attorneys and have a great staff! I highly recommend them!
my fiancée had to call there office repeatedly to get the status of my case. My fiancée singlehandedly kept the case from getting dismissed because it had sat carelessly dormant for so long and it was her that had to bring it to there attention. And then, when we suggested a way for them to address the obstacles created by my ex-wife and the careless mishandling of my matter (I suggested filing a Motion to Waive the Requirement for Respondent to Take the Parenting Class), your office responded that it couldn’t be done, when in fact, I knew it could be. I paid a paralegal to draft a motion, forwarded it to you and then your office copied it in and submitted it to the court…then the magic happened. The case was resolved and the divorce was granted. I provided you with the legal fodder to complete the job. I was told my case flat-fee agreement (in flat fee cases , I understand that I will not be billed for phone calls, faxes, court appearances, attorney preparation time, paralegal time, or any other hourly fees for work done by the Firm.) than I got a bill 2 years later for 540.98 said they could not reach me... also never got any final paperwork from them... I also did upfront fee $1,300.00 and now its at collections ... I did turn them in to the Utah State Bar...read more

Search Site

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
Filter by Categories
Accident and Injury
Adoption
Alimony
Business Law
Car Accidents
Child Custody
Child Support
Civil Law
Constitutional Law
Contract Law
Corporate Law
Criminal Defense
Criminal Law
Divorce
DUI Defense
Employment Law
Eviction Law
Family Law
Father's Rights
Insurance
Landlord Tenant Law
Litigation
Mother's Rights
News
Personal Injury
Protective Orders
Real Estate Law
Trials & Litigation
Trusts
Trusts, Wills & Estate Planning
Wills & Estate Planning
Wills & Trusts