How to Serve Divorce Papers When One Spouse is Hard to Find
Divorce is often a messy, emotional, and stressful process. This is especially true for couples who don’t mutually agree to their divorce. The spouse who files for a divorce is known as the plaintiff, and that person has a legal requirement to serve a copy of the divorce petition and summons with the other spouse, known as the defendant. This seemingly simple task of delivering papers to the defendant’s home becomes very difficult if that spouse no longer has a confirmed address. So what should you do if you can’t locate your spouse in order to serve divorce papers and get such an important process started?
Attempting Personal Service
Personal service occurs when your spouse is provided the initial divorce paperwork through personal delivery by a process server or sheriff. This is the form of service that courts prefer, because it leaves a smaller margin for error and ensures that the defendant is aware of the impending legal proceedings. However, there are many complexities that might make personal service impossible. There are many cases in which the defendant no longer lives at the last known address and has no employment or community ties to indicate his or her new address. In other situations, the defendant makes it clear that he or she is not willing to provide the information necessary for service.
Alternate Forms of Service
If you can prove that you have exhausted all available resources in an effort to complete personal service, your attorney can request permission from the judge to perform “service by publication.” This involves publishing a notice of your divorce in a local newspaper for a specific span of time. Your spouse will receive between 30 and 60 days to respond to the posting, and if no response is received, divorce proceedings will begin in his or her absence.
Electronic service is also becoming more prevalent in difficult divorce cases. Defendants who lack specific home addresses sometimes have a strong social media presence that makes it possible and even convenient to provide service of process through Facebook, email, or other platforms.
Even if your spouse does not want to be found, the experts at Accurate Serve Pensacola pride themselves on achieving personal service in difficult circumstances. Call (850) 264-2917 to learn more about the process of service offered at Accurate Serve, and have your divorce papers served once and for all.