As tempting as it might be, do not give your estranged husband or wife a sly grin and hand them your set of sealed divorce papers already obtained from court.
As with many legal processes, rules of court exist to govern processes within court proceedings, such as, in this case, the effective provision (or what we describe as “service”) of court documents.
Rule 25.02 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 sets out the circumstances under which an application for divorce must be ‘served’.
Usually and particularly in cases where individuals are unrepresented subparagraph (a) applies and the respondent (your husband or wife) must be served ‘by hand’ pursuant to rule 6.07.
Rule 6.07 confirms in essence that an individual must hand directly to another individual the relevant documents to be served.
Subparagraph (2) addresses the scenario where those documents are refused to be accepted by the other person and provides that the server can simply put the documents down in the presence of the other person and confirm to them what the documents are.
Rule 6.07 (3) however specifically prohibits an individual serving their own documents personally on other parties to the application.
Therefore as convenient and tempting as it might be, don’t push your divorce application across the breakfast table or hand them over at change over for the kids and expect effective personal service to have occurred.
If relevant court rules regarding procedure are over-looked or not observed, the court has a discretion to ignore or refuse you the ‘benefit’ you are seeking to obtain from the particular step within the proceedings.
If service is the issue, the court may delay the process and insist you comply with the rules, causing you further delay and potential expense.
If you wish to avoid procedural issues, ensure you are appropriately represented by an individual who specialises in the area of law your issue resides within.