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Who May Execute Service of Process?

One of the primary questions raised by those who are seeking a divorce is: May I serve my spouse with the divorce complaint and summons? The mandates of the Georgia Civil Practice Act answer this question (short answer “no”) and set out specifically who may serve process upon a defendant according to Georgia law.

According to the Civil Practice Act:

Process shall be served by the sheriff of the county where the action is brought or where the defendant is found, or by such sheriff's deputy, or by the marshal or sheriff of the court, or by such official's deputy, or by any citizen of the United States specially appointed by the court for that purpose, or by someone who is not a party and is not younger than 18 years of age and has been appointed as a permanent process server by the court in which the action is brought. Where the service of process is made outside of the United States, after an order of publication, it may be served either by any citizen of the United States or by any resident of the country, territory, colony, or province who is specially appointed by the court for that purpose. When service is to be made within this state, the person making such service shall make the service within five days from the time of receiving the summons and complaint; but failure to make service within the five-day period will not invalidate a later service.

O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4 (c).

The Civil Practice Act does not permit one spouse to serve the other spouse with the complaint and summons for divorce as this would constitute a party to the case executing process. However, there are several other options that a plaintiff to a divorce action may avail himself of including service by sheriff or court appointed process server. For example, the parties could acknowledge service thereby mooting the need for formal service of process. Contact your divorce attorney to discuss the specific local rules that may apply to your case as some counties have more specialized rules regarding who may serve process.

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