Court Discusses Challenging Service of Process in Florida Divorce Matters

Parties seeking a dissolution of their marriage in Florida must comply with any applicable procedural rules. This means, among other things, that the party that institutes an action must properly serve the initial pleading on their spouse. If they do not, the court may lack jurisdiction over the responding spouse. A person cannot attempt to avoid dissolution by evading service of process, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion issued in a divorce case. If you or your spouse intend to end your marriage, it is important to speak to a Miami divorce attorney regarding your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. He then hired a process server to serve the petition on the wife. The process server attempted to serve the wife at her father’s home. She tried to evade service, however, by refusing to answer telephone calls or the door and running into the house. Further, her father attempted to stop the process server from getting close to the house.

Reportedly, the process server subsequently left the wife a message on her cell phone and yelled into the house that he had papers to serve her. She did not respond, and he ultimately left the papers in an obvious location and screamed that she had been served. The wife subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the action due to improper service of process. The court denied her motion, and she appealed.

Challenging Service of Process

The trial court ruling was affirmed on appeal. The court explained that although the return of service is presumed to be correct, a party can prove service was invalid by offering evidence that is clear and convincing. In the subject case, the court found that the wife offered no such evidence. Thus, in consideration of the facts of the case, the court opined that the trial court’s conclusion that the process server complied with the applicable rules in consideration of the wife’s attempts to avoid service was correct.

Specifically, pursuant to Florida law, if a process server leaves papers where a person can easily retrieve them and takes reasonable measures to notify the person being served of the delivery of such papers, the service requirements will be satisfied. Based on the foregoing, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Dedicated Miami Attorney

While a party seeking a divorce must properly serve their spouse with the petition for dissolution, alternate means of service is permitted in certain circumstances. If you want to end your marriage or were recently served with legal documents instituting a divorce action, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney. The dedicated Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. have ample experience handling divorce actions, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in divorce cases in Miami. You can reach us through our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.

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