Before talking about the How, let's talk about the What and Why... First of all, forget what you have seen on TV and in the movies (this is true for divorce in general- and law for that matter...No one would be interested in a television episode based on following me around for a day at work). Before a judge will ever, ever allow you to get divorced - you need to prove that your spouse was notified of your intention to divorce him or her. That covers the why. Under some limited circumstances, you may be able to accomplish this by placing the appropriate ad in the newspaper or, if you are confident that your husband or wife will participate in the process voluntarily- your lawyer may be able to send them a letter. If, however, that is not the case - the divorce document which is filed at the outset of your case needs to make its way into his or her hands, and you need to prove it. This is called "Service of Process" or having the other person "served". The sheriff of the county in which your spouse lives will attempt to personally deliver the paperwork to his or her home. If another member of the household over the age of 13 answers the door, this is sufficient so long as the sheriff also puts a copy in the mail. This is called "substitute service". Once served, the sheriff will then sign an "Affidavit of Service" to prove that it was done. Most counties' sheriffs will make 3 attempts before giving up. If the sheriff is not successful, you may need court permission to have a private process server give it a try; usually at the cost of anywhere from $75- $100.
Once served with a Divorce Petition, your husband or wife will have 30 days to take action or else run the risk of your getting divorced without them.
Ultimately, the best way to serve your spouse will depend on circumstances. Your lawyer will know the best way to go about it and can discuss it with you. If you are ready to file for divorce, call attorney Carol O'Connor Cadiz to schedule an in person consultation in Schuamburg or Itasca, to discuss service of process and any other questions that you may have.