A requirement when one party has filed for divorce is for the other party to be formally notified. This usually takes place by the sheriff or a special process server serving the divorce papers on the other party. Service from the sheriff or a special process server satisfies due process requirements when a divorce begins.
Being served divorce papers can be upsetting. For some, it can even be embarrassing. This can be the case where the divorce papers are served at work or at home in front of others (like the children).
In collaborative divorce, it is not necessary to formally have the divorce papers served on the other party. In a collaborative divorce, the parties instead work on trying to settle their divorce outside of court through sessions with the collaborative process.
If the parties are able to reach a settlement outside of court in the collaborative process, one of the parties does end up filing the divorce petition, and other necessary paperwork, in court. But instead of having these papers served with a summons on the other party, the party who did not file the divorce signs a waiver of service instead.
The waiver of service makes it unnecessary to have the divorce pleadings served upon them by a sheriff or process server. Instead, they are given a copy informally from the other side. After they have waived service, they will then file their answer with the court.
Ultimately, the settlement paperwork is filed with the court to conclude the case. The judge then reviews the settlement paperwork to ensure that it is not unconscionable. If it is not unconscionable (so one-sided that it shocks the conscience), the judge will usually sign the paperwork to conclude the case.
The judge typically signs the settlement paperwork without the parties having to appear by the affidavit of the parties. In some cases, however, the parties may have to appear at an uncontested hearing.
The fact that service is waived can be an added benefit in collaborative divorce. The cost of service is usually not a great deal from a financial perspective. What people normally wish to avoid is the embarrassment or anguish of being served.