I was given the divorce papers directly in hand. I did not sign nor did I return the papers to my spouse. What happens next? If I don’t get served by mail or sheriff, what will happen? Will the demand expire? Do I have to respond even if this is never served? Should I return the papers unsigned?
Who gave you the papers??
You have not properly been served according to the rules of Civil Procedure, however if the documents your spouse gave you contain a notice of hearing, you do have actual notice of any court date and should appear on at limited basis at least to dispute jurisdiction based on improper service.
There is no notice of hearing, there is only a copy of the complaint, with a file number and a seal that reads “filed” with the filing date, the yellow summons page, and finally an “acceptance of service and waiver of notice of hearing”.
Your ex is asking that you accept service and waive time to answer. If this is a complaint for absolute divorce and you have no property, or have previously settled your property issues you may sign the acceptance of service and waiver of time. This will allow the divorce to proceed through the system.