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Service of Process 

Service of process in a divorce case.

What is Service of Process?

In Georgia, "Process" consists of the summons and the complaint. Both documents must be served on the defendant in order to initiate a divorce action. The idea behind service of process is to give the defendant (the person not filing suit) notice of any lawsuit against him/her. You cannot bring a divorce action unless your spouse has proper notice through service of process. Service of process may be accomplished in the traditntal way by a process server or it may be done by acknowledgment which is cheaper and a bit easier.

How may the Defendant be served?

Process must be served personally upon the defendant. In order to be valid, personal service upon a defendant must be made by 1) delivering a copy of the summons attached to a copy of the complaint to the defendant personally, or 2) by leaving copies at his or her dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion residing therein, even though notice of such is not received by the defendant. However, for service made outside the state upon a Georgia resident, the service must be in person to the person served.

Georgia Civil Practice Act O.C.G.A § 9-11-4

If the defendant is a resident of Georgia

If the defendant is a nonresident but found sojourning within the state, he may be personally served with process […]. Generally, however, a nonresident is immune from service 1) while in attendance upon a court where he is a suitor or witness or 2) in going to or returning from the court; but this general rule would not apply if the person is in the state for some other purposes, or if the proceeding is not a "new" action.

Georgia Civil Practice Act O.C.G.A § 9-11-4

If the defendant is not a resident of Georgia

Acknowledgement of Service 

Service of process may also be accomplished via what is known as "Acknowledgement." Acknowledgement of service may be accomplished by having the defendant sign a written acknowledgement, in the presence of a notary, that he or she has received a copy of the complaint and that he or she waives all other and further service, including further service of summons. If you and your spouse agree on getting a divorce, this option is typically cheaper and easier than hiring a process server to complete service formally.

Additional Resources 

Feel free to read more about related topics. You've got questions, Meriwether & Tharp is here with the answers you need. 
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