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North Carolina Service of Process for Divorce
The Server

Process servers in North Carolina are not licensed. The divorce papers are served by “some proper person,” which means the sheriff of the county where service is to be made or some other person duly authorized by law to serve summons. Outside of North Carolina, such proper person shall be anyone who is not a party to the action and at least 21 years of age, or anyone duly authorized to serve summons by the law of the place where service is to be made.

Serving Process

The summons contains the name of the court, the name of the county where the complaint is filed, the case number, the name of the first party on each side, with an appropriate indication of any other parties, the name of each party to whom the summons is directed, a direction that the defendant serve a responsive pleading or motion within 30 days and a notice that unless the defendant so serves and files a responsive pleading or motion, the plaintiff will apply for the relief sought in the complaint, and the name and address of the plaintiff’s attorney, or the plaintiff’s address.

Personal service is made upon an individual by delivering a copy of the divorce papers to him or her personally, or if he or she refuses to accept them, by leaving them at the location where he or she has been found. If the defendant refuses to receive such copies or permit them to be left, such action shall constitute valid service. If the defendant is absent, service is affected by delivering the papers to some person residing at the usual place of abode of the defendant who is over the age of fifteen (15) years. When no such person is available or willing to accept delivery, service is effected by posting such copies in the most public part of the defendant's premises, and by mailing copies to him or her at his or her last known address.

The divorce papers may be served by mailing them first-class mail, to the defendant, together with two (2) copies of a notice and acknowledgement and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender. When the plaintiff receives no acknowledgement of service 20 days after the date of mailing, the sheriff or process server may then make service. When the defendant is a North Carolina resident who has avoided service of process and effectively prevented service on the party, service by publication is permitted with the approval of the court.

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