When the party being served is unable to be found and there is no known address for their work, you may be able to use Service by Posting. This method means that the court clerk posts the summons and complaint in a visible place designated for court notices at the courthouse and the serving party must obtain the court’s permission to do it.
Qualification for this method usually also requires publishing the serving party’s summons and complaint in a newspaper as well as qualifying for a fee waiver. When it comes to divorce, legal separation and annulment summons and petitions for custody of support (children and ex-spouse) and you have no way to locate the party being served, it is important to check with the court rules specific to the service of process.
- The court will require the serving party to prove that they exhausted trying to locate the party being served for divorce without success. Courts will vary when it comes to their requirements, but most will require at least that the serving party:
- Tried to find the party being served at their last known address or last known work address,
- Mailed letters to the last known address with forwarding address requested,
- Called the party being served friends and family or ex-coworkers to ask about their whereabouts,
- To look for the party being served in the phone book for any city where they are likely to be,
- To search on the Internet.
Once you have exhausted all of the above steps and have the documentation to prove that you did, there are other steps that will likely be required. Again, it is important to review the court rules.
Common steps that may be required prior to asking the court for permission to post include:
- File a request for a fee waiver, fill out all the details asked and request to serve by posting.
- Prepare a Declaration that tells the court every attempt made to find the party being served. Include as much detail as possible. This must be signed penalty of perjury.
- Prepare an ex-parte request for the court order allowing service by posting. This includes attaching a proposed order.
- In case the court grants the fee waiver and requests to serve by posting at the courthouse, the judge signs the proposed order and allow the summons and complaint posted at the courthouse.
Service by posting is complete at the end of the 30th day – right after the first date of the summons and complaint are posted.
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