Can I be “served” with divorce papers by email?

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Can I be “served” with divorce papers by email?

My husband is in Iraq; residency is in TX; I live in FL. My husband filed for a divorce and sent me the divorce decree by email with blank lines stating me to sign them and return to his lawyer. He has asked for everything and has left me with nothing. We have been married almost 20 years and I was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago so I need health care. I am also entitled to half his retirement. Is it legal to be served by email? Am I totally screwed now because he filed? I was not aware of any of this, just through email today.

Asked on July 2, 2011 under Family Law, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your situation. I am assuming that your Husband filed the paperwork for the divorce  - the Petition - in Texas, correct, as that is your legal residency?  You need to contact an attorney in Texas then to deal with this with you.  The law requires that original legal papers  - Petitions for Divorce,  Summons an Complaints in other cases - be served upon the party or parties being sued in a certain manner.  This comes under the states laws called Civil Procedure.  The reason that the laws have to be followed is that if they are not properly followed the Court does not have what is known as jurisdiction over the party being sued and therefore can not make a determination as to that parties rights.  I have serious  - and I mean serious - doubts that you were properly served, even if your husband is in Iraq.  But I am afraid that the court will not be notified that it was not done properly unless someone tells them.  You are not totally screwed as you say and you have a lot of negotiating power given the length of the marriage.  Get help.  Good luck.


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