There are a number of rules involved with divorce, and those extend to expiry dates on divorce papers. You do have a limited time in which to serve divorce papers to your spouse, but you should know that the papers do not actually expire. What expires is the summons or complaint that you are supposed to serve with the papers. This informs your spouse that they are required to sign the papers and return them to the judge.
The summons expires within 60 days, but you can go back to the judge and request an extension. You may need to prove extenuating circumstances or a lack of cooperation for your spouse in order to receive that extension.
Once the summons expires, it cannot be served with the papers anymore. The divorce proceedings will have to continue in another way or you will need to get a new summons from the court. If your summons expires before the papers have been served, then the court may dismiss the divorce entirely. In that case, you will have to file for divorce again or seek another legal proceeding to achieve the desired results.
You do have other means of getting the divorce papers signed and ensuring the proceedings continue. You can issue a statement in the newspaper or otherwise notify your spouse. Some people choose to do so by contacting their friends, either by phone or social media.
So, you don’t need to worry about the divorce papers themselves ever expiring, but they could become null and void because the summons expired and the case was dismissed. This isn’t what usually happens, but you do need to be aware of the possibility and the power of the judge in these kinds of cases. It is in your best interests to serve the papers as quickly as possible and to get the papers signed so the divorce can be settled.
You should know that you cannot deliver the papers yourself. Essentially, any adult but the filing spouse can serve the papers. If you don’t believe you will be able to serve them before the expiry date on the summons, it is best to let the judge know ahead of time. The judge will be more likely to grant an extension if you show that you are planning ahead and actually trying to serve the papers.