By Simone Spence
If you are unable to serve the NRP with court paperwork because either he is avoiding being served or because you cannot find him, you can request that the court allow you to use alternative service. You will have to testify and show in court that you have used reasonable diligence (actually tried) to locate the NRP and/or have him served before an alternative service request can be heard. What qualifies as reasonable diligence will be up to the judge to determine – just as all child support requests to some extent are all opinion based. Once you get past the basic guidelines, it’s up to the decision-maker to decide whether deviations in any child support order are fair and reasonable. After all, what’s fair and reasonable to one person, may not be to the next. If you find yourself in this situation, I suggest that you bring forth this motion after you have carefully made notes of all of the efforts you have expended to locate and/or serve the NRP because the judge will take this all into consideration when making a determination of whether alternate service is justified.
There are many ways to serve alternately and if you are going to ask the judge to allow you to do this, you have to choose the method most likely to give actual notice of the document being served. For example, serving someone by publishing the summons in a newspaper has been for many years the most common means of alternative service. However, many people no longer read newspapers and if your ex is known to not read newspapers at all, then that would not be considered to be a fair means service today. However, due to the rise of social media, the courts are more frequently using electronic communications and social media to publish the complaint and summons or to notify the person being served that the documents have been published. If you ex has a presence on Facebook or another social media such as twitter for example, or accepts emails and text messages, and he is known to receive communications there you might be able to send the complaint and summons directly to the person by mail, email or social media. Another option might be for the court to allow you to publish the complaint and summons in the newspaper and then notify the person via inbox that the documents are there.
Because you are a party to the case, the court might order that a third person serve the documents and file proof of service on your behalf. For alternative service, this might mean the third person would mail, email or inbox the documents for you, post the documents on your ex’s Facebook profile, arrange for publication in the newspaper, or notify your ex by phone, text, inbox, etc that the documents have been published.
Generally any person over the age of 18 who is not involved in the case may serve the complaint and summons so you don’t have to spend money that you don’t have on a Sheriff’s deputy, constable or process server
The court might order you to use more than one means of service, especially in the case of electronic service. If the court approves your Motion, take the steps necessary (including arranging for a third person, if necessary) to complete service as ordered and file proof of service.
All of the forms necessary to ask the court for permission to serve by alternative means are included in the document library, including suggested language.
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