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Washington D.C. Service of Process for Divorce
The Server

Process servers in the District of Columbia are not licensed. Any person over 18 who is not a party to the case is able to serve papers.

Serving Process

In the District of Columbia, service of process may be effected by personal service, which includes delivery of the divorce papers to a responsible person at the office of counsel of the respondent, delivery by mail, by third-party commercial carrier for delivery within three calendar days, or by electronic means, if the respondent consents in writing.

A summons must be delivered within 20 days of being issued. When the summons and petition are delivered, the server completes the bottom of the legal copy showing the date and time service happened.

Divorce papers may also be mailed by certified mail, return recipient requested. The plaintiff must complete an Affidavit of Service by Certified Mail, showing the date the summons was received when he or she mailed it, and when the recipient received it.

When the whereabouts of the respondent are unknown, the plaintiff may ask the court for permission to effect service by publication. The court may approve a motion to allow Service by Publication. This happens after the plaintiff has made a diligent search for the missing spouse.

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