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Michigan Service of Process for Divorce
The Server

Any competent adult who is not a party to the action may serve process, however, they must also be licensed in the state of Michigan to be a process server.

The divorce papers that must be served are the summons and the petition for divorce.

Delivering the Divorce Papers

Divorce papers may be served on the spouse in several ways, but the petitioner may not deliver them. A friend or relative may serve the papers or the local sheriff’s department, police department or a “process server” can deliver them. The server must be 18 or over and not involved in the case.

The server must personally deliver the papers and then complete the Proof of Service on the back of one copy of the summons and return it to the petitioner.

The server can also mail the papers registered or certified mail, with restricted service and return receipt requested. This routine only works if the spouse accepts delivery of the registered mail, and if the petitioner has an address where the return receipt can be mailed.

To use mail service, a friend or relative must go to the post office and post papers registered or certified mail. When the papers are delivered, the petitioner receives a green card (the return receipt) in the mail that must have been signed by the recipient. The friend or relative who mailed the papers must sign the Proof of Service form on the back of one copy of the Summons and return it to the petitioner, who attaches the signed return receipt to the Proof of Service.

It is only required for the Summons that someone other than the petitioner must personally serve the documents. After the initial service, the petitioner may serve court papers on the respondent, and they do not have to be delivered in person. Any additional divorce papers may be mailed to the recipient’s last-known address, handed in person, or left at the his or her home with an adult who also lives there. In any case, a proof of service must be signed.

Anytime a server completes a Proof of Service form, the petitioner must file it with the county clerk.

Alternate Service

If the petitioner cannot locate his or her spouse, or has made unsuccessful attempts, he or she may ask the court for permission to serve by regular first-class mail or another way, including service by publication in a newspaper. This requires the petitioner to file a Motion and Verification for Alternate Service. When approved, the court signs an Order for Alternate Service, which directs the petitioner to follow the judge’s directions for alternative service.

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