Generally, the service of a Summons For Divorce must be made by personal delivery to the defendant spouse. Standard procedure is to employ a process server and provide a photo, residential address, description of the vehicle operated and the best time of day to attempt service and in the alternative the work address. Usually with this information personal service can be made upon the defendant spouse.
However, there are times where after several attempts personal service does not work because the person is never at the residence or does not have a regular place of business. Sometimes, even this basic information may be unknown if the person has moved away and the parties have been physically separated for an extended period of time.
In such situations, the attorney upon providing the court with an affidavit of due diligence from the process server and an affidavit of what other steps were taken to try and locate the defendant such as a driver's license search, communication with relatives or friends of the defendant the Court will permit an alternative method for the service of the Divorce Summons. These methods can include giving the Summons to a person of suitable age and discretion or leaving the summons at the door plus mailing a copy of the Summons.
The law also allows the Court to create its own method of alternative service if even those methods will not be successful. In a recent case, email was the designated method because the defendant left the United States with the child and declared her intention to live in Iran with her family. The US does not have diplomatic relations with Iran The court permitted personal and mail service upon the defendant's parents in Iran and service upon the defendant by plaintiff's Iranian attorneys in accordance with Iranian law. When personal service upon the defendant's parents could not be made the court permitted emailing utilizing an email address that defendant had used to communicate with the plaintiff.
While I do not usually write about procedural issues, the problem of service does arise from time to time and this most recent case broadens the method in which to give notice of a divorce proceeding. If you anticipate difficulty serving your spouse, please call my office so I can help you resolve this most important first step to obtaining a divorce.