Can I send the papers to her last known address certified mail or should it be a server that serves them? 18 Answers as of February 08, 2013

I have drawn up my own divorce papers online and printed them out. I have been estranged from the wife for many years and have no clue where she is. I have found a last known address and have found her on Facebook. I have sent her many messages for an address to send the papers so she could sign them and I have gotten no response. If she doesn’t sign them or it’s not her address then what?

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S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
If she is not living at the address then you will be unable to serve the complaint on her. You will simply have to locate her present address or even a place of employment. If she is living at the address, but refuses to sign for the certified mail you can either obtain service through an individual who will personally serve her or prepare a motion to present to the court stating that you attempted to serve her through certified mail and now would like permission to serve her by ordinary mail.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 2/8/2013
John Russo | John Russo
Check the rules in your jurisdiction for service, if you intend are doing this yourself you will need to at least read some of the courts rules as they relate to domestic procedure. Here in R.I. and many of the jurisdictions that I am aware off in a divorce action only service in hand will suffice, i.e. served by a qualified process server, attesting to the fact of the service unless the court pre approves service by alternative means. The law is much more then filling out forms, we are just beginning to see more and more questions now being posted from people who handled their own matters, and are now finding out that they have all kinds of problems with issues that they did not fully understand at the time, but just wanted to get the divorce over, or get some legal matter behind them; Simple example, two young ladies recently sent in a question stating that it was not fair what was happening to them now and could someone please, please help them. To save a few dollars they determined that it would be easier for them to prepare daddy's will since they could do just as good a job as some thief lawyer, so they went on line got those will forms, and prepared daddy's will. Daddy just sadly recently passed away, and that sisterly law firm of anything you can do we can better, has just been notified that they had disinherited themselves in the will they prepared, but now this is not fair because they didn't know all the law, and nobody told them that this could happen, and it is just unfair and the law is unfair and stupid, not them, but the law, and they had to be sadly informed that there is no second bite, and they are out of daddy's estate. But anyway check the rules in your jurisdiction for alternative service of process in a domestic relations matter, that will explain to you what you can do, i.e. either publication, tack on, etc, when you determine how you wish to proceed then you will need to petition the court by motion for permission to serve by alternative means.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 2/7/2013
Law Office of Joanna North
Law Office of Joanna North | Joanna North
You can ask the court by motion for an alternative form of service.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 2/7/2013
Ankerholz and Smith
Ankerholz and Smith | Rian F. Ankerholz
Certified mail service (with receipt back) is allowed in Kansas. However, your circumstances indicate mail messages have not been satisfactory. Because you are the one who must prove good service to the court, you should opt for service by the Sheriff's Department. The cost is minimal, and you will have good record of how the service was obtained.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 2/7/2013
Kalil & Eisenhut, LLC | Michael N. Kalil
If you are commencing a divorce action, your wife needs to be personally served with the divorce papers. If you are unable to effectuate service on her, you will need to make formal application to a court for an alternative method of service.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/7/2013
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    You know that she will not sign them, so you should have a process server personally serve them. This will allow you to keep the process moving.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    Reade & Associates
    Reade & Associates | R. Christopher Reade
    You are required to serve your ex-wife by personal service. If you can demonstrate to the Court that you have been unable (after due diligence) to personally serve her, you may petition the Court for permission to serve by publication and certified mail.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier | Seth D. Schraier
    You are required to have your wife personally served with the divorce papers. You should have a process server or someone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the action attempt to serve her at her last known address. Only after a due diligence attempt to personally serve her can you proceed with an alternative method, but you must get court permission in order to mail it. So you cannot just mail her the documents to her last known address if you have not been given permission by the court beforehand.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    You need to personally serve the summons and petition. If you do not know where she is, you will need to seek court permission to serve her by publication. Service by mail of the initial documents is not sufficient.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    Donald McLeaish | Donald McLeaish
    Lawsuits, including divorce, require personal service but when you file with the district clerk, you could have the petition sent by the clerk Certified Return Receipt requested and you may be successful. The clerk will send CRRR for the addressee to accept. If not accepted ,the Judge should not grant a divorce as no personal service. Also, you need a qualified process server who could find her and find out the fee before you act.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    Peyton and Associates | Barbara Peyton
    The first papers have to be personally served unless she is out of state. Then you can use certified mail, return receipt requested. Most judges like to see personal service even if the other side is out of state.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    Carey and Leisure | John Smitten
    For an initial complaint you have to get service of process. US mail is not legal service of process.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    Marion E. Ellington, Jr. Attorney at Law, PC
    Marion E. Ellington, Jr. Attorney at Law, PC | Marion E. Ellington, Jr.
    If she doesn't sign, then issues of jurisdiction, venue and proper legal service come into play. You would need to discuss this with a local attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    LAW OFFICE OF ANNE B. HOWARD | Anne B. Howard
    They need to be personally served. If that doesn't work get courts permission to serve by publication.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    Fox Law Firm LLC
    Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
    We can give her notice through publication and then we do not need her signature for the divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    The Law office of Karla M Mansur
    The Law office of Karla M Mansur | Karla Mansur
    You have to serve divorce papers in hand by a disinterested third party if she is in the state of MA. If you think she lives in MA try to have her served there and if you can't you will need to file a motion to complete service by publication. FYI you can send a letter to the last know and see if it comes back with a forwarding address.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 2/7/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You will have to have them personally served by a person other than yourself, or you will have to seek an order for substitute service for the court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/7/2013
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