You can request that the court allow you to use a motion and order to allow alternate service for child support collection if you want to serve him electronically by email or text message or on social media like Facebook or Twitter.  If you know where the deadbeat lives, works or where you can find him in order to be served, you must serve him personally. If he cannot be found or is craftily avoiding service, you can request that he be served alternately.  This includes by publication in the newspaper, through the mail and nowadays it can also include electronically (such as email and text message) and socially such as Facebook and Twitter.  You must always get permission to serve the other parent alternately and you will have to prove that you have tried your best in order to get your request approved.  You will be filing a motion asking the court for permission to serve your summons and complaint alternately and you will be providing a statement to the court with a detail of your efforts.

This following 5 items are what you will need for the entire process, but the directions below are for the Motion only.  Please see the additional documents provided in the document library under Alternate Service for instructions on the other documents:

1.  Motion for Alternate Service
2.  Statement Supporting Alternate Service (Affidavit)
3.  Order for Alternate Service
4.  Summons for Publication
5.  Proof of Alternate Service

Here are the steps:

1. The first thing that you need to do is to get the court’s permission to serve him alternately.  By law we all have the right to our day in court.  By serving him alternately you are asking the court to bypass his opportunity to appear and hear your case without him present, if he cannot be found and served personally.  This is taken very seriously so you will first have to do your due diligence and attempt to locate him.  You can do this by: sending letters to his last known address to see if they are returned to you or if they are delivered.  You should send a letter by regular mail and by certified mail, return receipt at the post office.  You can call family members, mutual friends and acquaintances and ask if they have a home or work address for him or know where to find him.  For example, they may know that he goes to the gym every day after work at about 7pm.

2.  Record all information about every failed attempt to reach him.  You will need to provide this information to the court later.  I must tell you how important this part is.  You must be very detailed.  Every time to speak with someone about him to inquire as to his whereabouts, list their name, how you reached them, the time and date of your contact and exactly what they said to you.  If you send a letter, record when you mailed it and when it was returned to you by the post office.  Keep copies of everything, including the envelopes when they are returned. The more work that you put into this, the better your outcome will be.  Do not try to take the easy way out.

3.  If you are able to obtain a good address for him, you must serve him personally.

4.  Download the Motion for Alternative Service Document
5.  Complete the form using the sample language in our Sample Language/ Forms/ Letters directory

6.  Download the Statement form from the Document Library and complete it.  Consider viewing the sample language in our Sample Language/ Forms/ Letters Directory

7.  Download the Order for Alternate Service from the Document Library and complete your portion.  The person hearing your case (Judge, Hearing Officer, etc), will complete most of this when you bring it to court, but there is a small portion for you to complete.  Consider viewing the Sample Language/Forms/Letters Directory

8.  Have the Statement of your efforts (your affidavit) notarized

9. Make 2 copies of each of your forms

10.  Bring your originals and your copies to the County Clerk’s office and tell them that you have “a motion for alternate service and are requesting that the judge sign the order.”

11.  *There will probably be a filing fee.  In some areas they may call it an “indexing” fee.  Find out in advance how much the fee is so that you will be prepared when you arrive.  Also, each area is different and ask how that fee must be paid – cash, check, money order, etc.

12. If you have proven your case, meaning that you have shown that you have made a good-faith effort to find the deadbeat, there is a very good chance that the judge will sign the order.  Electronic and social alternate service is still fairly new but most states are using it now.  It will be up to the discretion of the person hearing your case as to whether they will allow it.  If the judge does not allow electronic or social service, be sure that you have included the possibility to have the deadbeat served in the newspaper.  That is a time-tested approach and one that has been used and approved by the courts for years.

13.  If the order gets signed to serve him socially and you are a “friend” or a follower on his social media accounts, post the summons and complaint on his page and take a screenshot showing that it has been posted.  Visit the page again in a day or two and take a screenshot of what has happened next.  Chances are you will have been unfriended.  Take a screenshot of that.  If posting on Twitter, because there is a character limit, you will need to tell him that he has been served and provide a link to someplace where you have posted the summons and complaint.  Invest your time in setting up a Hootsuite Account.  It is free for about 30 days and you can schedule Tweets for about once an hour over the course of about 2 days, to give enough time for him to see them.  Take screenshots. Once again, your access to tweet him will be disengaged.  If you are not a friend or a follower, and you know someone over the age of 18 who is, you can ask them to do this for you.  You can also serve him the summons by sending an email.  Paste the entire summons and complaint into the body of the text as well as attaching it as a document before sending.  If you have his cell phone number and can add attachments, text him his service by attaching a document of the summons and complaint and a picture that you have taken of it with your cell phone as well.

14.  If you are serving him through the newspaper, call the newspaper where you intend to publish the summons and ask for their procedure and cost.

15.  *Follow their procedure and pay their cost.

16. Generally, you must publish the summons once a week for 3 weeks.  Ask the clerk in that particular area to confirm their own policy and procedure.

17. Generally, on the 21st day the service is considered to have been completed and the deadbeat has been legally served.

18. The person being served has 30 days in order to respond to the summons.

19. On the 30th day after the first publication has appeared, you can call the publisher of the newspaper to obtain the “affidavit of service,” or “proof of publication” which means that they have  completed their part of the service and have published the summons in their newspaper as required.

20. Once you have received this affidavit, you can then proceed with your next step because the deadbeat has been properly served.
If you are concerned about whether you can afford the costs associated with a motion and order to serve by publication, including paying filing fees, consider filing for Indigent Status at the County Clerk’s office.  Search our blog and article area for information to help you understand what that is and how to use it.  The costs associated with publishing the summons in the newspaper can often be waived.  Ask the clerk’s office about this as they generally are able to help.  If the clerk’s office is unable to help with this, contact the Simone Spence Support Team: