A Guide to Serving Divorce Papers to a Spouse Who Can’t Be Found

As stated by the law, an individual asking for divorce must file a summons in the local court and have the paperwork delivered to their spouse through “service of process.”

In New York City, the service of process in divorce cases can be done by a third party over 18 years of age who is not involved in the case or a professional process server. They are required to serve the documents in the given timeframe, fill out the proof of service, and return it to the plaintiff for filing in court.

But what if the respondent’s whereabouts are unknown or if they are intentionally avoiding being served? In these special cases, the judge may allow the use of an “alternative service.”

An alternative service may be granted when the petitioner’s efforts to serve in person have failed despite numerous attempts. The service method may be any way that the court deems as appropriate. An example is “nail and mail,” which involves affixing the legal documents to the entryway of the respondent’s home or workplace.

Other Steps to Take If Your Spouse Can’t Be Located or Is Evasive

There are a few other ways you can serve divorce papers if you don’t know where your spouse is or if they are purposefully evading you. These include:

lawyer and client's agreement1. Service by Publication

Formally known as a “Motion to Serve by Publication or Posting,” this method involves obtaining permission from the court to publish a notice for divorce in an English-language newspaper. However, this is usually considered a last resort.

For the court to allow this method, you must be able to demonstrate that you have made a reasonable and diligent effort to find your spouse. You will be required to document the whole process in writing, including the places you’ve searched and the people you’ve contacted. It can be helpful to save copies of text messages, call logs, and other documents that may support your request.

Once the motion has been granted, it’s your responsibility to find a news agency that will publish your notice. Afterward, the newspaper must provide an affidavit that the notice was successfully published.

2. Skip Tracing

This is the process of locating an individual who is particularly hard to find, usually for the purpose of serving a subpoena, foreclosure action, or in this case, divorce papers. Information on the defendant will be collected and analyzed to determine their location. There are different methods to gather information, the easiest being through the internet. Another way is through a technique called “Social Engineering,” which involves making calls to people who might be in contact with the defendant.

In addition to that, skip tracers may also tap into different resources to collect information. This could involve going through personal documents like credit card applications, utility bills, air and travel records.

3. Hiring a Process Server

While any qualified individual can serve divorce papers, you will benefit more from hiring a licensed process server. They know the ins and outs of process service in New York City, and their resources and connections allow them to locate people quickly.

Process Service and Skip Tracing Agency

If you need to serve divorce papers to a spouse who can’t be found, Serve Index LLC can help. Apart from professional process servers, we are also experts at skip tracing.

We have many resources at our disposal that will help us conduct a successful search for your spouse. Our skip tracers will diligently scour both proprietary and public databases to gather information on the defendant, all while abiding by state laws. We can locate hard-to-find individuals in as fast as a few hours.

For more information about our service of process and skip tracing solutions for divorce cases and to get a quote, call us at 1-888-994-6339 (toll-free) or send us a message.

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