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Chicago Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Initiating A Divorce In Chicago – What Is “Service Of Process” And How Do I “Serve” My Spouse?

Initiating A Divorce In Chicago – What Is “Service Of Process” And How Do I “Serve” My Spouse?


There is no doubt that there are many laws and court rules that govern the divorce process in Chicago and in jurisdictions throughout the United States. Rules regarding required pleadings, timing, notice, court appearances, and even the formatting of motions all fall under the ambit of state statutes and local rules of the court of jurisdiction where the divorce proceedings are or will be filed. One requirement under the law when it comes to Chicago divorces and divorces in Illinois generally is that the petitioner (the person who is seeking the divorce and filing the initial divorce petition) provide service of process to “the other party” (the person who the divorce proceeding is being filed against, in other words, the other spouse). Service of process is an important step in a divorce proceeding and must be done correctly in order to commence the dissolution process before the court.

What is “Service of Process”?

At its core, “service of process” is actually quite simple: it is the means by which one party to a lawsuit or legal proceeding gives notice of the lawsuit or legal proceeding to the other party. In the context of a Chicago divorce proceeding, the person seeking the divorce must first file certain documents with the court to start the dissolution action, and these documents must then be “served” upon the other party in accordance with the divorce law and any applicable court rules. There are specific laws that govern the initiating documents – in the case of a divorce proceeding a petition of dissolution and a summons – and there are also specific laws as to the manner of service of process and the timing. These laws can be detailed and tricky, so it’s best to seek out legal help in order to ensure that initiating documents and service of process are done properly and in accordance with the law.

Do I have to “Serve” My Spouse Myself?

A person seeking a divorce may wonder if they personally are required to hand deliver documents to their spouse to start a divorce proceeding. Fortunately, the answer is no. Typically a designated professional called a “process server” is hired by the person seeking the divorce or their lawyer to serve documents on the other spouse. The process server is a neutral third party who only delivers documents and typically provides a written declaration to show that the documents were served in accordance with the law. This declaration is typically filed with the court to show that the person seeking the divorce has followed the “service of process” requirements. An experienced divorce lawyer usually has a few process servers in mind, and knows the ins-and-outs of how to properly serve and provide proof to the court in a divorce case.

What Steps Should I Take if I am Seeking a Divorce?

If you are seeking a divorce, or just have questions about the initial steps, it’s important to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer about your legal rights and options. An experienced Chicago divorce lawyer can help guide you through the process and navigate the complex laws and rules in divorces, such as those that govern initiation of the divorce and service of process. The experienced Chicago divorce lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux provide a confidential consultation to hear about your potential divorce case and see if they can help. Contact us today for a consultation  and learn your rights and options.

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