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Tennessee Service of Process for Divorce
The Server

Process servers in Tennessee are not licensed. Any person at least 18 years of age and not a party to the action may serve divorce papers. The process server must be identified by name and address on the return.

Unless permitted by court order, service of process is not permitted on Sundays.

Serving Process

The divorce papers are the summons and complaint.

In a divorce, personal service may be effected on the defendant by delivering the divorce papers to him or her personally, or if he or she evades or attempts to evade service, by leaving copies at his or her house or usual place of abode with some mature person living there, and whose name shall appear on the proof of service, or by delivering the copies to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service.

After the complaint is filed, the clerk of court issues a summons. For a lawsuit to begin, both the complaint and the summons must be served together on the defendant, or the divorce is not granted.

Process may also be served by mail. A lawyer can mail a lawsuit to another lawyer or an individual, and the individual receiving the lawsuit can sign a waiver of service of process, acknowledging receipt of the lawsuit by mail. Waiver of service of process keeps down expenses. If the person receiving the Request for the Waiver of Service of Process refuses to accept service by mail and refuses to sign the waiver, the person seeking to serve the papers may ask the Court to assess the costs of the process server to the person refusing to sign the waiver.

The person serving the summons shall promptly make proof of service to the court and identify the person served and describe the manner of service. When process is served by mail, the original summons, an affidavit of the server setting forth the person’s compliance with the requirements of this rule, and the return receipt, is returned to the clerk. The person making service signs the date of mailing, a certified copy of the summons and a copy of the complaint to the defendant and the date of receipt. If the return receipt is signed by the defendant, or by a person designated by Rule 4.04 or by statute, service on the defendant is complete. If not, service by mail may be attempted again or other methods authorized by these rules or by statute may be used, including service by publication.

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