If you have been sued in an Illinois divorce case, a Sheriff deputy, process server or other authorized person could serve you in person with the Petition and Summons (the “divorce papers”). The Sheriff deputy or process server might serve you at your workplace or in front of neighbors. In fact, the Sheriff or process server might leave the complaint and Summons with a member of your household who is 13 years old or older. This means one of your children could be served the Illinois divorce papers. Being served in person with a lawsuit complaint, especially if there is no advanced notice, can be a stressful, embarrassing and unpleasant experience. But there is another option; a way to avoid this stress and embarrassment.
Illinois law requires that the defendant in a case be served notice of the complaint. There are a several rules regarding how defendants can be served the Summons and who can serve them. For example, the plaintiff cannot just email or mail the Summons to a defendant. Even certified mail is insufficient service of the Summons. Generally, a Sheriff deputy or process server must hand the papers to the defendant.
In most cases, the best option is to waive service and have an attorney file an Appearance on your behalf. This eliminates the need for a Sheriff to personally serve you with the divorce papers. Once an attorney files an Appearance, future notices in the divorce case are served upon the attorney.