In practice, upon the filing of a Complaint for Divorce, Modification, etc., and our receipt from the court of the original Summons, we often effectuate service of Summons and Complaint on the opposing party by mailing the original Summons, with a copy of the Complaint and the Track Assignment Notice, to the opposing party's attorney. This way the opposing party, in the privacy of his or her attorney's office, can sign the Acceptance of Service paragraph of the Summons before a Notary Public. This formally puts the Defendant on notice of the filing of the Plaintiff's lawsuit. It satisfies the requirement that the Plaintiff serve the Defendant with notice. But it also eliminates the embarrassment of a Process Server, Constable or Deputy Sheriff having to formally serve the opposing party in person, at work, in the presence of strangers, etc. Problems can arise, however, if there is a delay in opposing counsel having the opposing party come into his or her office to sign the Acceptance of Service paragraph of the original Summons, especially in cases involving a Complaint for Divorce.
Upon the filing a Complaint for Divorce, the spouse initiating the divorce action, the plaintiff, becomes subject to the Automatic Restraining Order under Massachusetts Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 411. The spouse, who must respond to the plaintiff's action, or, in other words, provide an Answer to the Complaint, is the defendant; and he or she becomes subject Rule 411 upon service of process, i.e. when a Constable or Sheriff serves the defendant with the Summons and Complaint.