Alternate Service: Service by Publication

Alternate Service: Service by Publication

Introduction

In some types of cases, the law requires that you serve certain documents (such as a Summons, a Notice of Filing and a copy of the Petition or Complaint) on the other party or on specific person(s).  If you have made every reasonable effort to try to find out where those people are, and you still cannot locate them, the law allows you to serve them by using other methods (“alternate service”).  But, in order to use alternate service, you have to get the court’s permission first. 

You should be aware that if you use alternate service in divorce cases, the court may not be able to order your spouse to do some things. The court will be able to give you a divorce, but may not be able to do much more than that.

Before asking the court to allow you to use alternate service, you must make every reasonable effort to try to find out where the people are living or working, and you must also show that you have not been able to serve them by sheriff or any other means provided by law. If these things are true, then you can ask the court to allow you to serve by alternate service.

There are various methods of alternate service, but these instructions will only talk about one: service by publication. You can serve by publication, which means that you publish a notice of the case in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where you filed the case.

Forms and Filing

To ask the court to allow you to serve your spouse by publication, you must prepare three documents and take them to the court:

Take all of these papers to the Clerk of the District Court and ask how to have the motion put before the judge. Also ask the Clerk how to get a signed copy of the Order for yourself.

If the court allows you to serve notice by publication, you must publish a Notice of Proceeding once a week for three straight weeks for a divorce or emancipation case.  The Notice of Proceeding has to be in a newspaper printed in the county where you file the case or in a newspaper of general circulation in the city where you file the case. Here is how to do that.

You will need to mail a copy of the published notice (what was in the newspaper) to the last known address of all people appearing to have a legal interest in this matter.  This has to be done within 5 days after the notice has been published in the newspaper for the first time

To tell the court that you mailed these copies, you will complete and file an Affidavit of Mailing Published Notice DC 6:6(8) using the Instructions for Completing the Affidavit of Mailing Published Notice DC 6:6(8). This form MUST be filed with the court within 10 days after you mailed the copy of the newspaper’s published notice to all interested people. 

The court will not hear your case until this form is filed, so make certain you file it before your hearing. 

In this form you are swearing under oath that you mailed them.  This form must be notarized.

Decree of Dissolution

If you serve your spouse by publication, and you do not have children, you will need to use the Decree of Dissolution -No Children - Service by Publication (DC 6:6(6)) using the Instructions for Completing the Decree - No Children - Service by Publication (DC 6:6(6a)) when preparing for your final hearing and not the Decree – Personal Service referred to in the initial filing instructions.

If you serve your spouse by publication, and you do have children, you will need to use the Decree of Dissolution - Children - Service by Publication (DC 6:6(7)) using the Instructions for Completing the Decree - Children - Service by Publication (DC 6:6(7a)) when preparing for your final hearing and not the Decree – Personal Service referred to in the initial filing instructions.

Instructions for your Divorce Hearing

If you serve your spouse by publication, and you do not have children, you will need to use the Instructions for your Divorce Hearing – No Children – Service by Publication (DC 6:6A) when preparing for your final hearing. Make sure to use these Instructions for your Divorce Hearing and not the Instructions for Your Divorce Hearing in the initial filing instructions.

If you serve your spouse by publication, and you do have children, you will need to use the Instructions for your Divorce Hearing – Children – Service by Publication (DC 6:6B) when preparing for your final hearing. Make sure to use these Instructions for your Divorce Hearing and not the Instructions for Your Divorce Hearing in the initial filing instructions.