Norfolk, VA asked in Divorce for Virginia

Q: § 8.01-296. Manner of serving process upon natural persons. I have read this statute many times. Can you explain it

I served the divorce complaint by sheriff service. The judges telling me that I did not properly serve the complaint. I'm not sure what to do next

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1 Lawyer Answer
James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr.
  • Glen Allen, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The starting point for service of process in divorce cases is Virginia Code Section 20-99. The primary consideration in service for divorce cases is the relief sought. Under the concept of divisible divorce, a marriage consists of two components - a legal relationship or res, and property rights stemming from that legal relationship. The res or marital relationship follows each spouse wherever they go. If the spouse satisfies the residency requirements for the state, he or she can terminate the marital relationship without personal service on the other spouse. If a spouse desires to affect his or her spouse's property rights - support and equitable distribution - constitutional due process requires personal service on the defendant spouse. If relying on the state's long-arm jurisdiction to assert personal jurisdiction over the non-resident spouse, the petitioning spouse must allege sufficient contacts with the forum state to satisfy due process concerns, and satisfy service of process requirements.

What trips up many pro se litigants is an attempt to assert personal jurisdiction that is not supported by the facts alleged or adequate service of process. As an example, service by publication does not create personal jurisdiction. The judge may refuse to allow a litigant to proceed in the absence of proper service of process.

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