More often than one may think, I find potential clients sitting for a divorce consultation before they have even broached the subject with their spouse at home. There are varying reasons, some people just want information before they make their decision and some simply do not know how to start the conversation. Most individuals have their frame of knowledge about the commencement of the divorce process from stories they have heard from relatives or friends, and what they have seen on television.
One topic that is generally touched on is, “Well, how are they going to get the papers?” In divorce cases, a party must be personally served. That means they must be physically handed the papers by a process server and/or someone over the age of 18 not related to the case. This does not mean that process server must jump out from behind a bush or pretend to be delivering a pizza. My advice is always that they know their spouse the best and are the best person to decide how their spouse may react. If they have not discussed divorce with the person, I suggest that they try and broach the topic first. Maybe suggest counseling or advise their spouse that they had spoken with an attorney and suggest the spouse do the same.
If my client is ready to move forward and no further discussion is needed, they have several options. We could draft a simple letter to their spouse advising we have been retained and asking them or their attorney to contact us. We can also contact their spouse or have the process server contact the spouse to arrange for a voluntary acceptance of the paperwork. However, sometimes the element of surprise is necessary. For example, where a spouse worries that their soon-to-be-ex may run to the bank and drain their account or where there may be a fear of a violent confrontation, then we can arrange for the party to be served away from the residence (and the children where applicable), so that the serving party can secure themselves and any other items they may fear retaliation towards.
At the end of the day, there are options, and your attorney can help guide you through all of them.